08/22/12 Indiana Conservation Officers and the Indiana Division of Nature Preserves are asking the public to help protect a state endangered aquatic plant. At Bass Lake in Starke County, vehicle tracks have been observed along the shore in areas of the lakebed that are now exposed due to this year’s drought.  These extremely low water levels have not been seen in Indiana in over 20 years. These exposed areas of the lake are of special concern because of detrimental impacts caused by vehicles to aquatic vegetation, including a rare state endangered plant.  Under normal circumstances, these types of aquatic vegetation are adapted to tolerate fluctuations in water levels, even in times of drought. When vehicles are operated in a lake, the effects to the local ecosystem may be compounded.  If these local populations of rare plants are destroyed, the negative effects may be irreversible.

Indiana Conservation Officers are advising the public that operating off road vehicles and motor vehicles in public freshwater lakes and streams is illegal. Operating in these areas is prohibited because of the extensive damage that can be quickly done to the local aquatic ecosystems. If you observe illegal operation of vehicles in public freshwater waterways you are encouraged to call Indiana Conservation Officers at 1-800-TIP-IDNR to report the violation.