Chesterton Tribune                                                                                   Adv.

Paddlers group hopes to clear Little Cal River of tornado debris

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It’s been 365 days since the tornado rumbled through Chesterton and things have pretty much returned to normal.

Except, perhaps, for the thickets of trees uprooted by the twister and dumped into the Little Calumet River as it passes through Chesterton.

The trees present no particular flooding concern, since—while the flow of the river is slowed—the banks are nevertheless high in most places and, in those other places where rain events may cause the river to breach its banks, the water only swamps an undeveloped floodplain.

Out of sight, out of mind.

Except for the members of the Northwest Indiana Paddling Association (NIPA), which is embarking on a major project aimed at clearing a 16-mile stretch of the Little Cal from the Heron Rookery to Burns Ditch.

Former Chesterton Town Council member Gina Darnell, who is helping the NIPA document the obstructions in the river, appeared before the Stormwater Management Board at its meeting Monday night basically to ask this question: “Who’s going to do something about this or are we just going to leave it?”

Darnell noted that the obstructions do not simply pose an inconvenience to paddlers. The slow flow of the river caused by the downed trees actually present a water-quality issue, inasmuch as slow water is warm water and warm water can play havoc with salmon spawning.

MS4 Operator Jennifer Gadzala did indicate that, at least according to her map, the Little Calumet River is a regulated drain under the jurisdiction of the Porter County Drainage Board, a body which Darnell said she has not yet visited.

Darnell promised the board, however, that the NIPA project has the backing of numerous partners—including Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore—and that NIPA would be happy to provide the board any and all assistance in preparing grants, writing letters of support, and that sort of thing, should the board take an interest in pursuing the matter.

MS4 Project Status

In other business, Gadzala gave the board a run-down on current projects:

•This year’s edition of the annual Adopt-a-Beach cleanup of Coffee Creek Park is slated for 9-11 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 25. Registration is required and volunteers can do so at

 by clicking on the red “Sign Up Now” link, choose “Indiana” and “Coffee Creek,” and follow the directions. All volunteers are asked to sign a consent and waiver form and parents must do so for children under 18. Waivers can be found at

 under the “MS4 Program” link; click on “Additional Information” on the right.

•Nine residents played “Where in the Watershed is Splash” and won Chico bags, leaving around 793 left to distribute. Gadzala said that she’s working on other ideas for the Chico bags—underwritten by Republic Services Inc.—which are handy re-usable bags which can be tucked into purses and pockets and used for shopping.

•Gadzala and her summer intern staffed a booth at the Porter County Fair last month, where they provided the public with information on rain barrels.

•Gadzala also introduced the new website for the “Let’s Talk About Poop”outreach campaign at


Posted 8/19/2010




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