Goose Pond, as well as the smaller adjacent Beehunter Marsh, is a glacial basin near Linton, IN, and a remnant of the larger, more expansive "Blackwater Marsh". The land has been pumped and drained for agricultural use since early in the nineteenth century; in 2000, the USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) purchased a permanent easement from the current landowner (Wilder Corporation of Delaware) as part of the Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) and is currently working to restore the wetland and wildlife habitat on the property. The restored complex will include about 5000 acres of swamp (woody), marsh (herbaceous), wet meadow and open water components. The total WRP easement area encompasses approximately 7200 acres, of which the Goose Pond component makes up 6000 acres. The remainder of the easement is located approximately one mile east at Beehunter Marsh.
The WRP easement and restoration will provide critical migrating and wintering waterfowl habitat. The property is located between the Wabash and White Rivers, which makes it an ideal area to receive migratory bird flights using the eastern portion of the Mississippi Flyway; 2200 Northern Pintails, for instance, were found at the smaller Beehunter Marsh impoundment on March 3, 2005, by Don Whitehead. Similarly, 250 Greater White-fronted Geese were observed on the property during February of 2005.
The area is also important for shorebirds and other waterbirds during both migratory and nesting periods. An adult King Rail, for example, was sighted with young by Lee Sterrenburg in July 2004 at Goose Pond. Adult and juvenile Black-necked Stilts had been seen during this summer at Goose Pond; also, Wilson's Phalaropes were suspected of nesting in 2003 on the property. In addition, species of herons and bitterns can be found in the wetlands of both properties.
Surrounding the main impoundment of Goose Pond are restored grassland and successional habitats; these areas support relatively large populations of such birds as Northern Bobwhite, Grasshopper Sparrow, and Dickcissel. Bottomland and upland hardwood forests are also being restored; once these communities mature, it will likely be inhabited by many species of resident and migratory passerines.
The property was owned by Delaware-based Wilder Corporation; in 2000, the USDA's NRCS purchased a permanent easement from the current landowner and is currently working on restoring the wetland and wildlife habitat. In May 2005, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources signed a letter of intent with Wilder Corporation to acquire 8,000 acres. In November 2005, IDNR purchased Goose Pond/Beehunter Marsh and publicly opened the units as the Goose Pond Fish and Wildlife Area.
Open water and emergent marsh habitat is being restored on 4957 acres by the construction of dikes to capture water from direct precipitation, runoff, and flooding events. The majority of this water will average less than 2 feet in depth; some areas will be excavated 0.5 to 2 feet deeper and the spoil will be used to construct sunken islands as well as islands at and above the surface of the proposed water level.
Prairies are in the process of being restored on approximately 1200 acres of upland soil types and will consist primarily of native grasses and forbs. Bottomland hardwood trees (including oak and hickories) have been restored on approximately 300 acres.