Chesterton Tribune



Paddle the East Branch of the Little Cal Saturday celebrate opening of launch

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Bring your kayak or canoe at 11 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 17, and celebrate the opening of the paddling launch at Indiana Dunes National park and the re-opening of several miles of the East Branch of the Little Calumet River.

Join Save the Dunes, Northwest Indiana Paddling Association, Shirley Heinze Land Trust, Dunes Learning Center, and the National Park Service for this special paddling event.

This event will not be impacted by the fish kill reported Thursday, which occurred well downstream from the paddling launch.

Visitors should meet at the Howe Road Kayak & Canoe Launch, located at 798 Howe Road in Porter, to receive instructions on parking and the shuttle bus that will move people between launch sites during the event. The shuttle bus will run between the Shirley Heinze Land Trustís Keith Richard Walner Nature Preserve canoe/kayak launch and the Howe Road Launch.

National Park Service and Northwest Indiana Paddling Association staff or volunteers will provide safety tips for the river. The distance between Walner and Howe Road is approximately five miles and will take about two hours to complete.

Paddlers, anglers, and other recreational enthusiasts have long-awaited improved access to the East Branch of the Little Calumet River. Save the Dunes, Shirley Heinze Land Trust, National Park Service, Northwest Indiana Paddling Association, and the Dunes Learning Center are working to restore habitat and improve access along the river corridor from Shirley Heinze Land Trustís Dale B. Engquist Nature Preserve located in Pine Township adjacent to the Heron Rookery, westward to Lake Michigan.

Over the course of this project, the river has been opened from Brummitt Road in Westchester Township to Howe Road in the National Park. The partners expect to open it up to Ind. 149 by end of summer this year, with plans to continue river opening activities in 2019 and 2020 towards Lake Michigan.

In addition to reducing logjams in the river, the partners also want to increase access into the river, including two canoe/kayak launches on Shirley Heinze Land Trust sites along the river: the Keith Richard Walner Nature Preserve in Porter, and the Wykes-Plampin Nature Preserve in Westchester Township, as well as the new Indiana Dunes National Park launch.

Recreational enhancements are not the only goal of this project. Save the Dunes, Shirley Heinze Land Trust, and the National Park Service are removing invasive species, felling dead standing ash trees lost to emerald ash borer, and restoring riparian habitat along the East Branch of the Little Calumet River through this project to support the ecological health of the river corridor.

The partners extend a heartfelt thank you to the Chi Cal Rivers Fund partners, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Donnelley Foundation, ArcelorMittal, Crown Family Philanthropies, REI, and NIPSCO for funding this work.




Posted 8/16/2019




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