Indiana is failing to help sportsmen PHIL POTTER, Tri-State Outdoors Sunday, August 6, 2006 Illinois sportsmen have access to 497,439 acres of publicly owned land and are set to get more through a 14.3-percent state budget increase. Gov. Blagojvich and the General Assembly have earmarked $15 million for the sole purpose of acquiring public lands for hunting and fishing. The 2007 Illinois budget also allows $428,000 for hiring 15 additional conservation officers. There's also a proposed $1.5-million facelift of state parks plus $10 million to enroll an additional 20,000 acres in the Conservation Reserve Enhancement program. But while Illinois buys land and funds outdoor amenities, Indiana seems unable or unwilling to do so. Indiana's underfunded public fish and wildlife areas spend more time seeking ways to cut back. This year they've dropped sending various hunt applications through regular mail. At Glendale FWA, all hunters for the put-and-take pheasant hunts will have to book on-line. Guys who don't have a computer could go to a friend's house or a public library to make their applications, but many won't. While the state saves postage, it cuts out hunters. A couple of Indiana legislators, for the past four years, have refused to take the state's share of federal duck-stamp dollars. These sidetracked duck bucks wound up in other states' fish and wildlife coffers. Isn't it time Indiana legislators take more interest in creating public areas?