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Sandhill cranes mingle with Canada geese at Pigeon River Wildlife area.

Pigeon River primitive campground to close

The 44-site primitive campground at Pigeon River Fish & Wildlife Area near Mongo will close March 1 and be converted to wildlife habitat, the Department of Natural Resources said today.

Factors in the decision included increased operating costs, declining revenue. growing maintenance needs, staffing constraints and the availability of other campgrounds nearby, including at DNR-managed Pokagon State Park 20 miles away, the agency's Division of Fish & Wildlife said in a statement.

The DNR division said its resources are better used on wildlife management, and the new use for the land will better align with the property's primary mission. It said it considered and rejected increasing rates, hiring employees to work specifically on the campground or allowing a private vendor to operate it.

Fish and wildlife areas are funded through fishing and hunting license revenue and excise taxes on shooting, archery and fishing equipment and motorboat fuel, the DNR division said.

It said the campground was developed when there were few, if any, private campgrounds in the area, adding there now are almost 40 private campgrounds operating in LaGrange and Steuben counties.

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