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
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.”
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