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Dam Nuisance

FORT WAYNE, IND. (WPTA21)-It meanders through most of 21 Country, from Cedar Lake in northern Dekalb County to the St. Joseph River in Allen County. Cedar Creek is one of just three rivers in Indiana designated a natural scenic and recreational river system, home to countless species of wildlife and old growth sycamore, beach and oak trees. 273 miles of nearly unobstructed water flow…nearly unobstructed.

casey: It really poses a threat to human safety,” says Casey Jones of ACRES Land Trust. “There are several deaths occurred as part of kayakers and canoers actually trying to jump these dams.”

Just about midstream in Cedar Creek, in the shadow of the Highway 327 overpass, stands a relic of human interference in this gentle rivers journey. a man made dam dividing the river to the detriment of creatures living in it. Who built the dam is a mystery. Some say it powered one of several grist mills that once harnessed Cedar Creeks power. Some say it was built by whoever constructed this nearby home in the mid 1800’s alongside the original Highway 327, that dirt road you see is the old road. Whoever built it the dam is a menace not only to human safety but to the 43 species of fish that live in the creek, a fact demonstrated by numerous biological studies.

It’s an obstruction to fish passage in the Cedar Creek,” says Jones. “Well for example downstream of the dam we found northern pike actually and grass pickerel and none of these at least in the first couple of studies that we’ve done have been upstream of the dam.

But the clock is ticking down for this rock and gravel impediment. Next fall thanks to state and federal funding the ACRES Land Trust will demolish the derelict dam, dismantle it rock by rock until Cedar Creek once again flows unimpeded from its headwaters to the St. Joe River, returning the river to its natural flow, restoring the natural migration of fish and mussels and other river life, restoring the balance of nature in this nearly wild, nearly untamed corner of 21 Country.

Eric Olson

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