March 27 meeting seeks public opinion on Eel River recovery through downtown North Manchester

Just consider the possibilities!

That’s the message the Middle Eel River Watershed Initiative has to the community about the future of the stream as it flows through downtown North Manchester. Today, the riverbanks are eroded and a dumping ground for trash – a barrier to habitat and an eyesore along the Community Trail Network.

A $17,000 feasibility study that will address protecting, stabilizing and restoring the banks of the downtown stretch of the Eel River needs advice and opinion from the community, said Terri Michaelis, coordinator of the Initiative.

At a March 27 meeting, the public will learn about the study that is a first step in gathering input and support for restoring the Eel River stream bank through downtown North Manchester. Following the study, the Initiative will pursue additional funding from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Lake and River Enhancement Program, as well as the community and other partners.

“There are many possibilities for this project and its potential to positively impact the town of North Manchester,” said Michaelis. “We hope the community will join us at this public meeting to learn about these possibilities and share their thoughts and ideas with us.”

The public meeting is set for 6:30 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, March 27 in the Blocher Room of the North Manchester Public Library.

The study will focus on the Eel River stretch from the Market Street Bridge east 500 feet to behind the parking area near the American Legion. The river runs along the alley behind Main Street businesses that borders the Community Trail Network.

The project would:

  • restore and stabilize the stream bank to reduce erosion
  • identify potential for improved wildlife habitat
  • eliminate dumping of waste
  • raise awareness for preserving the stream bank
  • involve the local community in the project design

Cardno JFNew, an Indiana-based ecological consulting and restoration firm, will do the study, Michaelis said. “The firm has the experience, resources and technical expertise to evaluate the site and determine an appropriate, sustainable, successful solution for the deteriorated stream bank in North Manchester.”

The steering committee is planning three public meetings on the project. The committee is comprised of representatives from the Wabash County Soil and Water Conservation District, North Manchester Chamber of Commerce, North Manchester Town Council, North Manchester Parks & Recreation, Manchester Main Street, Manchester University and local citizens.

For more about the Middle Eel River Watershed Initiative, contact Terri Michaelis at 260-982-5101 or tmmichaelis@manchester.edu. Visit the Watershed website at www.manchester.edu/eelriverinitiative.

Initially funded by a $1 million Clean Water Act Grant, the Initiative is a Manchester University-led coalition of agencies and individuals who are determined to improve water quality, enhance recreation and promote conservation of natural resources in the middle Eel River watershed.

February 2014

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