WARSAW — After waiting out a long, wet spring, a group of conservationists was able to clear a path along the Tippecanoe River just north of the Chinworth Bridge on Waraw’s west side on Saturday, Aug. 31.
Members of Paddlers For Conservation (P4C) normally begin working to clear logjams from the river beginning in May, but they’ve come to realize much of what they seek to remove in the spring is often submerged and overlooked.
“So when you would go back through in the summertime, it looked like we never touched it,” said Ed Roberts who founded the group his wife, Michelle, five years ago.
With extensive rains this spring, the group held off until Saturday for what they hope is the first of four events this fall.
They found plenty of work to do Saturday. Storms in recent years had blown down trees on both river banks north of the bridge, making it nearly impossible for anyone wanting to paddle through.
They used chainsaws to cut up limbs and trunks, which were then piled up along the banks where they will eventually rot and deteriorate away. Other trees south of the bridge were also removed on Saturday. A bag of garbage was also filled along the way.
The group of about 15 people included Dugan Julian of the Lilly Center for Lakes and Streams at Grace College and the Scott Fetters of the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
The task of clearing the river of trees and debris is an on-going effort and one that will surely never be perfectly achieved.
They came across a big oak tree that was too big to cut through, “but it’s just above the waterline, so it makes for the perfect little place for a turtle to climb up on and hang out on,” Roberts said.
P4C achieved non-profit status three years ago and has been able to seek grant money to help cover the costs of some of the equipment.
Michelle Roberts said the group’s work has led to new friendships and that they know their work is making a difference when they see people using the waterways.
“When we drive through town and we see people with canoes and kayaks in the back of their vehicle we know what their experience is going to be or we can say, ‘I really hope you’re not going to that section because we know there is a large logjam down there,’ ” Michelle Roberts said.
The next event for P4C is organized by Lilly Lakes and Streams and planned for Sept. 14 on Deeds Creek between the north side of Pike Lake to near the Meijers store.
Ed Roberts said anyone wanting to get involved can get updates on their Facebook page.