The Starke County Park Board has now assembled a letter that hopes to influence a change of heart by the County’s Drainage Board.
The Starke County Forest is the subject of a complaint filed by a neighboring landowner that alleges beavers on the land have caused flooding issues. The Drainage Board determined after the complaint that flooding was the result of beaver activity, and would require them to be removed. A marsh in the forest would be affected by the draining.
Park Board Secretary Deb Mix says they want to strongly recommend the decision to remove the beavers be put on hold.
“Everybody has had flooding so this has been an extremely rainy season so flooding doesn’t surprise me at all,” says Mix. “But at the same time, the beavers have been there for years and years, so at this point in time I don’t know if that’s really the problem.”
The Park Board voted at their meeting last week to send the letter after discussing the issue with Bruce Wakeland. He helps oversee operation of the forest. The goal, as far as the Park Board is concerned, is to work with the Drainage Board to find a long-term solution to any flooding that may result from the land. Wakeland recommended a bypass ditch across the south side of the property.
Park Board members were under the impression that the Forest – which is accessible by the public – is under their purview. They were informed the Drainage Board may have the final say. Mix says there is still disagreement over what the numbers show.
“If they remove the beavers before that, well then that will not be something that we’re happy about, and at the same time, there was more information that some of the solution that they were looking at could actually drain the marsh itself, and then the forest would lose that part of its ecology,” says Mix.
Additional information was requested prior to writing the letter after Wakeland suggested the flooding may not be coming from the beavers, but a property to the east of the Starke County Forest.
The letter was anticipated to be written prior to the Drainage Board meeting in September. The letter was delivered on Friday requesting a response within 5 business days.