This blog reports events and interesting tidbits from Rensselaer, Indiana and the surrounding area.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

A meeting

On Monday morning I went out the the USDA building for a meeting of the outdoor recreation work group meeting. The fog had not lifted yet, and I could hardly read the Rensselaer on the water tower. Can you see the REN?
You are probably wondering what the outdoor recreation work group is. I am not quite sure, but I got interested last year when this group was planning a canoe outing on the Iroquois River. I wanted to participate, but after a couple of delays, the date that the river finally allowed was  was a day that I had other obligations.

The group spent part of the meeting discussing when to schedule more canoe trips. They would like one in the spring and one in the fall for both Jasper and Newton county. The river in Newton county is considerably larger and deeper, so it is more cooperative. The river in Jasper County rises rapidly after heavy rains and can get too low for canoeing, so scheduling events on it is always subject to the whims of the river. If weather cooperates, there will be river floats in late April and in May, though I do not recall which was for Jasper and which was for Newton. And if things go well, there will be a repeat in late summer, probably in August. Last year some ladies from Texas (who own land in Newton County) enjoyed the event so much that they want to come back again this year.

Any discussion of canoeing or rafting the river brings up the subject of log jams. There are 19 documented log jams in the Jasper County part of the river, and a company from Fort Wayne had the low bid for removing them. No local people bid. The consensus was that the Fort Wayne company probably did not know what it was doing with its bid. Some of the log jams are in areas where the river is running through muck soils, and any heavy equipment that goes onto that soil will sink. If we had had a cold winter so the soil was frozen, it would be easier to remove the log jams, but the soil is not frozen this year. I am looking forward to hearing how the log jam clearing goes.

Newton County also has log jams, and there is one that is a bit west of the Jasper County line that is, according to reports, very large and impressive. The banks of the river in that area are heavily wooded, so it is not easily accessible. The river has responded to the log jam by eroding the banks, so if nothing is done by humans, the river will solve the problem.

There was considerable discussion of trying to get more public access sites on the river so it would be easier to launch and land canoes. The one that was used to start the canoe trip in Newton County last year is near George Ade and is so steep it is hard to get a canoe down into the river.

There was discussion of whether Jasper County could use a park board. Many other counties have park boards, even those that do not have county parks. Newton County's park board does not have a park to tend, but it organizes events. This year their ice-fishing contest had to be canceled because the warm winter. The attempts to use the river for recreation and the attempts to establish a trails system are topics that might be handled by a park board. The County Council is establishing a Tourism Board that will operate in 2013, and a park board might be a natural complement. Or perhaps a Tourism Board could do what a park board would do. Even though we do not have any county parks, we do have a number of areas that are publicly accessible (the Jasper-Pulaski area being the largest) and a park board could organize events that use those areas. What do you think about the usefulness of a county park board? And what do you think about a Tourism Board?


1 comment:

Ed said...

Interesting post... you do know that I get paid to research log jams (among other things)?

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/esp.2135/abstract