Chesterton Tribune



Izaak Walton calls for restoring a portion of the Grand Kankakee Marsh

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The Illinois and Indiana divisions of the Izaak Walton League of America have adopted policies calling for a restoration of 10 percent of the Grand Kankakee Marsh in Indiana.

The Grand Kankakee Marsh once covered over 500,000 acres in Indiana and was famous around the world for its abundance of fish and wildlife, but the marsh lands were drained by 1923 and the river channelized from a 250-mile meandering river to a 90-mile artificial ditch.

Flooding and erosion problems are now common throughout the basin and are getting worse every year.

“Not only can we bring back a small part of an incredible natural resource, we can fix most of flooding and erosion problems caused by the draining of the Grand Marsh a century ago,” said Indiana Division president Keith Halper.

Jim Sweeney, who’s served on the Indiana IWLA Kankakee River Committee for 25 years, said that there are currently no groups or agencies talking about restoring any of the Grand Marsh. “With all the development moving into the Kankakee River basin, we need to do this now. If we don’t, a future generation will spend hundreds of millions of tax dollars on a flood control project like what they did on the Little Calumet River, except it will cost a lot more then.”

Halper added, “This campaign will be asking the Governor of the State of Indiana and the General Assembly to restore a small part of a resource that was destroyed before we knew all of its benefits.”

Had the Grand Marsh survived, Sweeney also said, “it would be a national park today.”

Charlie Palmgren, president of the Illinois Division IWLA, said, “The Izaak Walton League was founded in Chicago in 1922 by 54 anglers and sportsmen. They knew what was lost on the Kankakee. We passed a resolution in support of a federal migratory bird refuge on the Kankakee River in 1933.”

The League is asking those who support restoration of a small part of the old Grand Marsh to write to their Governor and their State Senators and Representatives and tell them why they think it is a good idea. “This is a win-win-win situation,” Halper said, referring specifically to the good restoration would do for wildlife, water quality, and flooding and erosion solutions. “Bring back some of the marsh and we fix these and other problems.”

More information can be found at

Po. Co. Izaak Walton League to meet Saturday, Oct. 19

The Izaak Walton League of America-Porter County Chapter will hold their monthly meeting on Saturday, October 19, from 1-3 p.m. in the second floor meeting room of Thomas Library, 200 W. Indiana Ave., Chesterton.

PCC has a lot to share with the community--get involved in stewarding conservation properties, enjoying outdoor family adventures and learning about the wildlife and native species PCC supports.

For more information, contact Annette Hansen, Executive Director, at or visit and


Posted 10/8/2019




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