Chesterton Tribune



Public input meeting June 19 to identify the Little Calumet River's critical areas

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The public is invited the next meeting of the Little Calumet River East Branch (LCEB) watershed group, from 1 to 3 p.m. Wednesday, June 19, at Red Mill County Park’s Patricia Smith Hall in LaPorte County

The purpose of the meeting will be to present the LCEB watershed areas which are eligible for designation as “critical,” based on the assessment of the water quality data collected by LCEB technical committee members and Save the Dunes.

“Critical areas” are those in a watershed which are shown to have poor water quality, habitat, or both, and are where the watershed group will target efforts to improve water quality. The final selection of critical areas will also account for geospatial (digital mapping) data as well as social data that will be collected in the near future.

A watershed is that area of land that drains to a common waterbody: a river, lake, pond, or ocean.

The meeting will also feature a guest presentation by Robbie Sliwinski of the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), describing the restoration project that is happening at Shirley Heinze Land Trust’s Little Calumet Wetlands Preserve, located in Chesterton. This USACE project will ultimately improve the preserve’s section of LCEB floodplain, which will, in turn, act as a natural filter for floodwater pollutants and improve water quality before the LCEB makes it’s way into the Indiana Dunes National Park and ultimately Lake Michigan.

Save the Dunes is currently drafting the watershed management plan to protect and improve the River, which ultimately flows to Lake Michigan. This process is happening with the support and input of LCEB residents, business owners, and other stakeholders. The LCEB group needs area residents’ input to help ensure a strong plan, so that the streams in the watershed currently impaired by pollution can be improved.

The East Branch of the Little Calumet River begins in unincorporated LaPorte County and then flows west through unincorporated Porter County, the towns of Burns Harbor, Chesterton, Ogden Dunes, and Porter, and the City of Portage.

The river drains nearly 50,000 acres of forest, agriculture, and developed lands. Some sections of the river are degraded due to pollutants such as bacteria, sediment, and excess nutrients. “Nonetheless, the River is a great asset to the quality of life in northwest Indiana and is a much beloved resource for fishermen, paddlers, and those who live, work, or play in the watershed,” Save the Dunes said.

Save the Dunes has been awarded a grant from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) to coordinate the development of a watershed management plan for the LCEB watershed. A Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Lake Michigan Coastal Program grant has also been obtained to coordinate public education and outreach.



Posted 6/12/2013