Surveyor Says Drainage Board Maintains Jurisdiction Over Starke County Forest Issue


The Starke County Surveyor says he will not be responding to a letter asking that a Drainage Board decision be halted for further consideration.

The Drainage Board decided earlier this year that a drainage point in the Starke County Forest be opened after beaver activity may have prevented the adequate flow of water, causing flooding on neighboring land. The Starke County Park Board asked that a long-term solution be found to the problem.

Surveyor Dennis Estok says the Starke County Park Board does not have jurisdiction over the situation.

“The way the drainage laws read is basically: whenever there’s an obstruction in a petition regulated drain, which this is, the drainage board has jurisdiction over that drain, and the surveyor also does,” says Estok.

The Park Board helps operate the land on behalf of the county. Despite their efforts, Estok says flooding issues are not in their purview.

Both parties believe, however, that a long-term solution should be found blockage of the drain caused by the beavers. Bruce Wakeland helps operate the Starke County Forest for timber and other management efforts. He suggested that a bypass ditch be installed across the south side of the property to help prevent the destruction of a marsh and the beavers.

Estok says he’s not saying that the beavers indeed caused the flooding, but there’s evidence that it’s still working despite the dam that was constructed by the animals.

“So we’ve already been in there once and we removed the dam that was put in there to hold the water back to fill the marsh up and the beaver dams and within two days, Bruce [Wakeland] went back in and put the dam back in because it was draining the marsh,” says Estok.

Estok says that creating a bypass ditch will likely create a second access point for the beavers to dam – which may create additional problems.

Discussions will continue to take place on the matter. Estok says he and Wakeland will be working to find a permanent solution.