Chesterton Tribune



Ikes welcome Kankakee River refuge and trail

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The Indiana Division of the Izaak Walton League welcomes recent announcements of the creation of the Kankakee National Wildlife Refuge and Conservation Area and the Kankakee River National Water Trail.

The League first called for a federal migratory bird refuge on the Kankakee River in 1933. “The Grand Kankakee Marsh and the river were among the most incredible wildlife habitats in the country, Division President Tim Russell of Griffith said in a statement released last week. “We think a big restoration is justified for that reason alone. The fact that restoration will also help with the flooding and erosion problems along the river (is another good reason) to support it.”

On May 25 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) announced the formal creation of the Kankakee Refuge by accepting a donation of 66 acres of land from the Friends of the Kankakee, another local conservation organization.

“I’m very pleased to be working with local partners to conserve these priority wetlands, remnant oak savanna, and grasslands, as well as enhance outdoor recreational opportunities,” FWS Regional Director Tom Melius said.

FWS will be creating the Refuge in Illinois but not yet in Indiana. “That was disappointing,” said Porter County Chapter IWLA president Jim Sweeney. “We have more outreach to do in Indiana. But at least the Refuge is now ‘on the ground.’”

On June 3rd the Secretary of the Interior and the National Park Service announced the approval of several new water trails including the Kankakee River National Water Trail in Indiana and Illinois. The trail will be 133 miles fin length, from the river’s origin near South Bend, Ind., to Wilmington, Ill., where it becomes the Illinois River.

“The Izaak Walton League appreciates all the work of Dan Plath, the Northwest Indiana Paddling Association, and Mike Casagrande of Kankakee for making this happen,” Russell said. “Now, a lot more people are going to learn about what makes the Kankakee unique.”

National Water Trails are non-regulatory and increase tourism, physical activity, conservation initiatives, and much more. “More people will learn about the river and will grow to love it like we do,” Sweeney said. “Education leads to conservation.”


Posted 6/20/2016





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