Park Board Wants Drainage Decision Halted in Favor of More Information


The Starke County Park Board will be asking to hold-off on a Drainage Board decision until additional information has been gained.

Located in Washington Township, the Starke County Forest was the subject of an April drainage petition. According to the complaint, beavers residing in the forest have been blocking the culvert in a marsh area. The blockage has allegedly caused a neighboring property to experience flooding issues as a result.

Bruce Wakeland helps manage the forest on behalf of the county. He says the short-term solution involves working against the rhythm of the beavers.

“The obvious solution is to block the culvert at night – which is when the beavers do the work, and then open it during the day and let it flow when they’re in their lodge,” says Wakeland. “And then we can keep plenty of drainage through there and the culvert doesn’t get blocked.”

Under state statute, once a property has been petitioned for drainage issues, the Starke County Drainage Board can leverage a decision. A recommendation has already been made to remove the beavers from the site, and to allow some of the flooding to subside.

Wakeland says he and members of the Drainage Board agreed that a long-term solution would be preferable, predicting beavers will return to the site at some point in the future, and creating similar problems. The marsh has largely been unchanged since 1985.

Work has already been done to study the site – though the interpretation of the data has garnered mixed reactions as to the cause of the drainage issues. Additional study could be conducted, but Wakeland says creating a bypass ditch across the south side of the property is a cost-effective fix.

“It’s the obvious long-term solution to this problem, is to bypass the marsh,” says Wakeland. “Then you’ve got drainage and we can keep the marsh at the same time.”

Though the Starke County Forest is open for public access and enjoyment, the Starke County Park Board expressed frustration they may largely be without authority on the issue.

Board members agreed on a 3-1 vote that a letter should be composed and sent to the Drainage Board asking for action to be stopped until additional information is learned.

Once more data has been developed the Park Board’s intent is to form a proper opinion for future use by the Drainage Board.