On Feb. 6, Chief Surveyor Bob Vollmer, age 102, left the Indiana Government Center South as an employee for the last time. He worked for the Department of Natural Resources 57 years, mostly in the field or out of his home office in Brown County.
Vollmer exited the building after a two-hour reception with fellow employees. The day before, he completed his last day of working in the field, surveying in Clinton in Vermillion County.
Vollmer, who started with the agency as project engineer at Glendale Fish & Wildlife Area in 1963, is older than the DNR as the agency just turned 100 last year.
“From his service to the country in World War II to his service to the people of Indiana, Bob exemplifies what it means to serve,” DNR Director Clark said. “He will take with him decades of knowledge that will be nearly impossible to replace.
“We will also be losing his 100 years of stories. He will be missed greatly, and we wish him a long and enjoyable retirement.”
Many of his stories involve being part of three combat operations in the South Pacific. Returning there is part of his extensive retirement plans.
“I want to visit some of the islands I was on, visit some of the cemeteries,” Vollmer said. “I also might build myself a swimming pool, and I want to help my three great grandsons build some things.”
Vollmer, whose mother, Anna Francis Vollmer, lived to 108, says he believes in working, but his body told him it was time to go.
“There’re a lot of things I want to do, but I gotta slow down,” he said. “I just can’t get around like I used to, but I bet you I do.”
He attributes his success to the help he’s received along the way.
“I’ve been lucky all my life,” he said. “I got a lot of people to thank—I can’t remember them all. If I can continue with the luck I’ve been having, I’ll have a real good retirement.”
Which to him means staying active.
“I don’t have a reverse gear in my transmission,” he said. “You don’t want to quit — when you quit, you’re confined to the rocking chair, and that’s where you die.
“When I go down, I want to go down swingin’.”
Otter Trapping Season Hits Quota & Closes
The Indiana Department of Natural Resources has closed the river otter trapping season after reaching the statewide quota on February 3. The season was scheduled to run from Nov. 15 to March 15, or until the quota of 600 river otter is reached.
The framework of Indiana’s river otter season was carefully designed to limit the total harvest. Databases and reporting mechanisms allowed for close monitoring of the total season’s harvest.
In addition to the quota, DNR regulations require successful trappers to register their otter within 24 hours. Regulations also require tagging of each pelt at a river otter check station or by authorized DNR personnel.
“Licensed trappers had a successful 2019–20 limited river otter trapping season,” said Geriann Albers, furbearer biologist with the DNR Division of Fish & Wildlife. “While the season has closed, the DNR is continuing to collect data from legally trapped river otter to help guide future management decisions.”
A report of the otter season will be available in early 2021. Additional information on Indiana river otters and the river otter trapping season can be found at wildlife.IN.gov/8499.htm.
Grasslands For Gamebirds & Songbirds
The DNR’s Grasslands for Gamebirds & Songbirds (GGS) initiative made a quantifiable impact in establishing habitat for birds and pollinators in its first year. Grassland habitat improves soil health and water quality, which can in turn improve overall human health and increase recreational opportunities for Hoosiers.
In recent years, native grassland habitat has declined in Indiana and across the country, as have the numbers of many of the birds and pollinators relying on the habitat. GGS aims to reverse the trend by providing Indiana landowners with technical and financial assistance to restore grassland habitat.
In 2019, 138 habitat projects on more than 1,800 acres started establishing native grasses, wildflowers and shrubs. Efforts to spread the word about declining grasslands, birds, and pollinators have reached more than 850,000 people through the efforts of DNR and its partners. Research and monitoring efforts are also underway to assess the impact newly established habitat has on grassland bird species. More than 300 bird surveys on 14,500 acres were completed in 2019. Additional research is being conducted through Indiana’s first National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative (NBCI) focal area.
In coordination with GGS, more than 2,000 acres of private land were enrolled in Access Program Providing Land Enhancements (APPLE) to improve habitat and provide new recreational opportunities. Since APPLE started in 2017, 114 new gamebird hunting opportunities have been provided.
GGS, led by DNR Fish & Wildlife and in partnership with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP), brings $2 million of additional conservation funding to DNR and Indiana residents. Conservation funding through RCPP as well as contributions from private citizens, businesses and non-governmental organizations, have increased DNR’s capacity to assist landowners with grassland habitat establishment and enhancement projects. This increased capacity includes three new DNR grassland biologist positions, dedicated habitat teams, and increased financial assistance for habitat projects on private land across the landscape.
To learn more about Grasslands for Gamebirds & Songbirds, or to get involved, visit on.IN.gov/Grasslands. A summary of 2019 GGS accomplishments is at dnr.IN.gov/fishwild/files/fw-GGS-2019YearInReview.pdf.
‘till next time, Jack