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``Borrowed hooks and other looks:'' Channelizing the mighty Kankakee

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We're on schedule to run ``Borrowed hooks and other looks'' as planned on Fridays. (The first one--Bill Fuhry's memories of ``The Amazon''--posted Tuesday.)

This is a report from Norm Minas on Wednesday's farmers' meeting in Indiana on more dredging. Here's a sample.

``From statements made some of the delays were due in part in bats nesting, fish spawning and deer season, all of which they thought were totally without reason. They couldn't understand why wildlife was important despite comments from their spokesman on the tour bus they are working in conjunction with nature and didn't want to harm any fish or wildlife.''


Norm is one of the most dedicated fishermen of the Kankakee, and one of its great protectors. Four years ago, I happened to catch him on one of my prowls along my favorite river and thought I should take a picture of him talking to Mike Clifford, another Kankakee protector.

``Borrowed hooks'' should be sent to

Here's Minas'.

Here's the setup from Minas: ``I attended the meeting the farmers in Indiana had [on Wednesday] about K3 flooding. They had pictures of logjams, a handout, a speech by their spokesman and a bus tour.

I have included a report and my impressions and thoughts.''


Citizens for a flood free Kankakee meeting July 23, 2008

On Wednesday, July 23, 2008 at the Indiana Kankakee River Fish and Wildlife Area at the intersection of Indiana State Routes 8 and 39 a group of local farmers through the Indiana Farm Bureau held a meeting concerning the recent flooding on the Kankakee River. Their basic premise as far as I could tell was that the recent flooding in that area and the subsequent levee breaches was due entirely to logjams in the river.

I have a list of media, elected officials and other groups in attendance that is as complete as I was able to get. I apologize in advance if names are misspelled.
Media- Northwest Indiana Times, Star County News and Indiana Agri News. Elected officials - Representative from the Ind Governors office, in-person or reps present- Congressman Donnelly, Indiana State reps Dermody, Charbonneau and Debroski, Ind State Senator Blaine and officials from Lake and LaPorte counties. The Indiana Farm Bureau was there and most folks in attendance were farmers. The Indiana Dept of Natural Resources and the Indiana Dept of Environmental Management were represented. The Indiana Kankakee River Basin Commission, the Bremen Conservation Club [Indiana], The Kankakee River Conservancy District [Illinois] and the Illinois Smallmouth Alliance.

The stated goals which are taken from the handout they prepared are as follows:
1-We request that you provide sufficient funding to the Kankakee River Basin Commission or counties directly for important river maintenance work.
2- We request that you support all efforts to help us regain local control over our streams and ditches so that important work can be done immediately without lengthy bureaucratic delay.

Their spokesman said that the maintenance funding they wanted was for logjam removal and levee maintenance. On the local control of local issues he stated and I quote "They want to remove interference of state and federal agencies." As he spoke it became clear the agencies that they objected to were the Army Corps of Engineers, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management.

The following is from their handout:

Timeline: Logjam Removal Project on the Kankakee River
Motion made from 3 county drainage board approving project 12-15-04 {with no interference from state or federal agencies this project could have been bid out and completed in 3 months] This was their note not anything I added.
Request for Sea review made 06-08-2005. First step required to begin negotiations with DNR for permit.
Sea Meeting Date 06-26-05 First meeting
Sea Meeting Date 09-02-05 Second meeting about permit restrictions
2nd letter from DNR concerning SEA review. 2nd letter from DNR placing restrictions on project received.
Date of meeting with Army Corps of Engineers 08-17-06 As result of SEA review comments meeting with
COE was required.
Date of letter from COE approving project 09-12-06
Section 401 WQC Regional General Permit Notification{IDEM} 10-06-06 required by IDEM regulations
Application DNR/Division of Water construction in floodway permit 01-26-07 requests for additional info to complete review 03-15 and 04-17, 2007
Date of permit from DNR?DOW - mailed 05-22-07
Project completion date -7-2008

From statements made some of the delays were due in part in bats nesting, fish spawning and deer season, all of which they thought were totally without reason. They couldn't understand why wildlife was important despite comments from their spokesman on the tour bus they are working in conjunction with nature and didn't want to harm any fish or wildlife.

Some of the farmers proposed that the state fund and build roadways on private property to facilitate logjam removal. They also proposed clearcutting all trees of the stream side of levees on both state and private property and then dumping the trees removed on state property all of which would be paid for mostly with public funding.

It was proposed by one of the farmers I talked to that they bring back a fee of a couple cents per acre the drainage districts used to charge to help to his credit. Once the trees were removed it was proposed that the levees be sodded over and mowed and woody growth be eliminated by the state forever. They couldn't see how removing the trees could hurt, after all the birds could just fly a few feet further to find nesting spots.

They didn't seem to understand issues such as how the tree roots stabilized the banks, how the trees shaded the river and helped keep ambient temperatures down or the role of trees in removing CO2 and adding oxygen. They also didn't seem to understand the length of time it would take for plants to become rooted and stabilize the banks, the type of plants needed[loner roots] or how labor intensive that would be.

One guy actually said they could just shoot the seeds into the bank with a shotgun while floating down the river. I told them how when the park district on the Fox River cut the trees several years ago they ended up with losing a couple feet of riverbank in a year and asked what would happen to levees if the same happened.

I explained to them that speeding up the flow of the river which is what they want causes more sediment to be carried. I told them that in the channelized river they have in Indiana the increased speed means more sediment load carried which means more sediment dumped in Illinois, where the flow slows due to natural meanders. They said they had some sand traps which needed to be cleaned out. I told them that helped as long as they were maintained but wetlands and natural meanders to slow the flow and absorb excess water was what was needed to reduce flooding on both sides of the border. I tried to explain to some of them that the flooding was caused more by excess water in a channelized river without wetlands to absorb them than by logjams.

They were not interested in discussing creating wetlands, bringing back natural meanders and taking some of the levees down to benefit everyone and wildlife. They were upset that the IDNR had obtained an additional 420 acres for conservation purposes and to take excess water. The most common statement was that wetlands and wildlife didn't pay property taxes. They couldn't see that reducing flooding and sediment deposits all the way to the dead zones in the Gulf Of Mexico saved everyone additional taxes to pay for the damages. They also couldn't see the point of areas set aside for wildlife or for everyone to use and enjoy.

They asked why their lifestyle should suffer and someone should lose their land for wetlands. I asked them if anyone ever asked the people who made their living from and in the Grand Kankakee Marsh how they felt before it was drained, dredged and channelized. About all I got was well it was mostly just Indians and they only lived on the high ground. When I asked about the folks that made their living hunting, trapping and fishing there was no reply.

One guy even had the nerve to say that the draining, dredging and channelization was just evolution in action. It was pointed out to him that those were man made events that actually harmed the natural system that evolution had come up with. I never thought I would here the rape of natural resources described as evolution.

In my opinion it seems that what the local farmers want to do is to remove logjams and cut down trees as they desire without being subject to the laws and rules that society has decided are necessary to protect the land and waters. They are unwilling to discuss what really causes the flooding - channelization and what needs to be done to alleviate it - wetlands and natural meanders. It was often stated that I should support what they wanted as it would cut down on the sand coming into Illinois. It was never explained how removing the logjams and increasing the current speed and thus the sediment load carried would accomplish that.

Norm Minas

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ken had troubling posting this, so he emailed it.

There is nothing worse on earth than someone trying to explain the big picture to a bunch of people that will never try or care to understand it.

But someone has to do it now and then.

Channel rivers, cut them off from the flood plains they filled at high water for millenium, pave over the flood plains just for good measure, then blame log jams for flooding.


From now on, whenever a levee breaks it should be left broken. Let rivers lay claim to what they once had. Floodplains naturally filter out what doesn't need to be going down stream. People can move and adapt to where they move, soon as they quit whining about it.

I commend both Norm and Mike for all they try to do. I just hope they have a nice thick pad for their foreheads for all the brick walls they will be banging them on. I also wonder when the burn out factor will hit them. That day when they just throw up their arms and say, "That's it, life's too short for this, I give up." I hope it won't hit them too hard.

I know a guy out on the Fox River that got "hit by a Mack truck" burnout when it comes to the river and it's conservation. The majority of people in that valley just don't care. Not sure he'll ever care much again either.

Dealing with shortsighted, narrow minded people will do that to you.

The guys are so right.

The Indiana farmers do not care about anything downstream. They dont care about angling, they dont care about the flooding and sedimentation downstream. They do not care about biological diversity.

Left to their own devices, they would deepen and armor the entire river in Indiana tomorrow. No tree would be left up.

If you want anything good to happen for the river in Illinois, get the DNR to sue the state of Indiana.

People like Norm are few and far between in this state. It takes a great deal of passion to remain dedicated to the cause, not to mention literally hundreds of hours spent while spreading the message.

Sadly, the USF&W Service plan for the Kankakee River is met with fierce opposition still to this day- on both sides of the state line.
One day common sense will prevail, but it may not be in our lifetime, and it may come too late to save the river.
The time to save her is right now, not tomorrow.

Thanks for showcasing this fight, Dale.

The FWS plan has a lot of mold on it.

Why not make a new one?

Good things can be made to happen.

What needs to be there to make the right people in Illinois make something happen in Indiana?

it is important to sometimes listen and take notes. It doesn't matter that the farmers are uninformed and have not interest in being so. It only matters what they think and whose ears they have. Prepare your counter arguments for the people (government, agency, etc) that the farmers speak to so you may counter their statements. Continue to make calls and speak with those government agencies too. Knowing how those farmers think is more important in formulating ways to either reach them, or negate their desires.

Burnout comes.Don't lament it, it is part of life. Those who fear the burnout of others who represent the interest of us, should be prepared to help prevent the burnout, or be prepared to step up to the plate and replace the Norms and Mikes when they go.

The farmers won't. Superb report by Norm & Ken and Dale to provide space.

I have went threw all the Departments from the city of Charthage County of Leak, and the city of Ofahoma, up to and including the Vicksburg Mississippi Corps of Engineers. This is an area known as a swamp area. The situation as I have taken pictures and walked and talked to the farmers in the reagion. That the Levee which was in stalled by or with the blessings of the Vicksburg Corps of Engineers was and still remains the problem. I have been the only person who has been in the creeks since 200 years. Their is NO EXISTING EVIDENCE of support that anyone has been where I have photograps of. Even when asked. at Vicksberg MS C.O.E., no one has ever been there. They requested a copy of the photographs. I gave them copies. And informed them that the levee that they created did not stop the flooding of the farmers. And that was a direct qupte from the farmers. As, the photographs and my soil testing indicates the Log jams threw out . Caused by erosion of trees near the bank has blocked 3 large rivers that converge in the area. 1 I call the Pell Creek over 70 feet wide and 15 ft deep the other is the Yakonnoy which is 45 ft wide and 9 1/2 feet deep and the 3 which is a over flow streem which has worked its way around the blockage and trying to find it's way south all at the north end of my families property. The Corps of Engineers is NOT working with me. Only listening. The Enviromentalist are waiting. And Others, are "Suit's". I have been given permission to clear some 80 log jams, which are over 12 high. By my self. And their is no help. At my cost. I was not aware of the situation untill I was confrunted with that the land is LAND-LOCKED. Their is no easement. The nearby farmers are making it difficult to access the property. I have found ways to access it. And the evidence supports with pictures. that the log dams, have totally blocked the 3 rivers threw out the streams all the way from the 16 FWY in Ofahoma to the Pearl River south in Missisippi. I need help. I am allowed to clear and remove the logjams on my property. As, long as I do not use any Mechanized equipment. Like a back hoe, crane, tractor, ETC. Many or logs 4 to 5 feet in diameter, piled up and many feet thick. I have spent 2 weeks going from Department's, asking for help or assistance. It appears that they have no access or that they that they can not access the property. No true how did I get into the creeks. And before you set up a levee, should you not check the source and the altitude of the flow of water. Maybe all that was needed was to clear the log jams. But did anyone simply just make a study before committing to a failed levy. I inquired from each department. Not one person in any department at any level ever physically walked the land. At any time. Their data is based upon computer generrated substance. Not ground based actual study. City of Carthage, County of Leak, City of Ofahoma, Dept. of Roads, USDA, AFG, FISH and GAME, Enviromentalists and driving over 180 miles to directly inform the Corps of Engineers. But their is no help. In a couple of months I will return and log by log remove one at a time. Allowing the water to return to it's natural flow in the creeks and end all flooding from the 16 FWY and the Natchez Trace down to the Pearl River. As it has been doing for hundred of years. Cell 323-695-7859, micheal Robinson, P O Box 1688, Wilmington Ca. 90748-1688

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This page contains a single entry by Dale Bowman published on July 25, 2008 7:12 AM.

Public pheasant hunting survives, PHA applications was the previous entry in this blog.

Brent Manning: ``I'm heartsick by this'' is the next entry in this blog.

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