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Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Ind. Gov't. - "Log Removal Project Raises Public Concern"

StacyPageOnline, out of Kosciusko County, has a three-part series "examining the Tippecanoe River log jam removal project, which is to begin Thursday." This is from Part 1, an Oct. 8th report from Alyssa Richardson.

An earlier story, from Phoebe Muthart on Sept. 10, reported that:

The Tippecanoe River clean-up project is closer to becoming a reality. That was the message provided to the Kosciusko County Commissioners this morning.

According to information provided in a recent study of the river, there are 111 blockages in the river. Blockages include tree limbs and other debris that are preventing the water from flowing. The result has been local flooding, especially in the Center and Pike lakes in Warsaw and along the Barbee Chain of Lakes.

The river clean-up project will be broken up into segments and includes removal of limbs and debris.

Bids for the project are approximately $110,000. So far, $45,000 is available to pay for the project and the county has also applied for a Lake and River Enhancement grant.

The clean-up project is expected to start at the west county line moving east. Over 30 miles of the river will be completed. The entire area of over 30 miles of the river in the county will be cleaned. “We can’t use heavy equipment,” said Ed Rock. “We can only use hand tools.”

A committee will select a bidder this week. Once a bid is awarded, the project may begin as early as this year or not until next spring, Rock said. Property owners will be notified prior to work beginning.
“There’s no guarantee it will fix the problem (flooding),” Rock said of the clean-up efforts, but feels confident removing blockages will help. “We just have no history to prove it.”

From the Oct. 8th story:
Though many are looking forward to some reprieve from flood waters, others are not quite as certain that the log removal process is a “good idea.”

Recently, a flier has circulated through the community demanding that Tippecanoe River property owners not sign a form from the county requesting access to the river from their properties. The flier questions whether the county has done a study on the removal of fallen trees and other snags that impede water flow.

In addition, the flier questions whether anyone knew of the committee responsible for the clean up efforts and if that committee ever contacted property owners for their opinions. Lastly, the flier states that in the 1980’s, a company was hired to put snags and drop trees into the river and infers that the removal process could be harmful for endangered species. * * *

According to Amy Bloemendaal of Kosciusko Lakes and Streams, the project to clear the river of obstructions has been a collaboration between the Kosciusko County Office of Emergency Management, the Kosciusko County Surveyor’s Office, Lake Tippecanoe Property Owners, Kosciusko Lakes and Streams and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.

In addition, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Indiana Department of Environmental Management, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Soil and Water Conservation District and The Nature Conservancy were consulted in the process and development of this project.

According to Kosciusko County Emergency Management Director Ed Rock, the decision to remove the logs was not based on a study, but on the fact that grant money was available from the IDNR to remove log jams along the river. Upon the discovery that this grant money was available through the Lake and River Enhancement program, Rock stated parties involved in the log jam removal project began investigating whether that grant money might be well utilized in the area. After examining the Tippecanoe River, it was discovered that a total of 111 jams exist west of Warsaw alone. That does not include the blockages east of Warsaw to Oswego.

“In reality, if you ask about what study was done, I would have to say no, no study was done,” said Rock. “There were grants available to remove log jams in the river. We decided we’d look at it and see if we had any. (After discovering) 111 log jams, we thought maybe we should get some of those out of there before it creates a major issue.”

Rock added the project to remove log jams is not a new one, instead, efforts have been in effect for over a year now to not only seek out public opinion, but to raise the 80 percent match mandated by the DNR to begin the removal process.

Bloemendaal and Rock both noted that the public was notified on several occasions over the past year of the intent to remove log jams along the river. According to Bloemendaal, two stakeholder meetings were held on Aug. 24, 2012 and Sept. 6, 2012. Invitations were sent to environmental organizations and agencies, lake associations and property owners along the stretch of river and other potentially interested parties. In addition, on both Dec. 19, 2012, and Jan. 2 of this year, the project was presented on the Kosciusko County Commissioner meeting agenda.

ILB: Looking through earlier ILB entires, I found this COA opinion on log jams, from July 20, 2006, and this follow-up entry, from July 24, 2006.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on October 9, 2013 10:18 AM
Posted to Indiana Government