About Manchester

Eel River fish ladder background information

  • What: A new approach to fish passage over low-head dams: Design and installation at the Stockdale dam, Eel River of north-central Indiana
    Why: The mission of the Eel River Initiative is to design and implement a holistic strategy to restore the ecological integrity of the Eel River basin and provide ecological research opportunities for Manchester University Environmental Studies students. Part of that effort is to remove low-head dams, which are dangerous for humans and prevent fish and other river-dwellers from going upstream. The Stockdale experiment will test whether fish can use a many-leveled fish ladder to make their way upstream and bypass a dam when removal is not possible.
    This is unique: Although fish ladders are fairly common in areas where commercial fish, such as salmon, need to go upstream to spawn, this is the first of its kind to be installed in the U.S., specifically designed to help fish as small as 3 inches navigate around a low-head dam.
    Regional benefit: The Eel River is a major tributary of the Wabash River in northern Indiana. The initiative has worked with farmers to reduce the impact of agricultural runoff and vastly improve the water quality. Bald eagles nest along the river, about 60 species of fish and more than 20 species of freshwater mussels (including one federally endangered species and a recent reintroduction of an additional federally endangered mussel species) and river otters are widely distributed throughout the basin. The Eel also supports smallmouth bass and varieties of panfish.
    How:  As a result of the initiative led by the Environmental Studies Program at Manchester, a broad support base of conservation partners and local residents have collaborated in restoring the Eel River as a health natural resource and local treasure.
    A little background: The old Stockdale grist mill and dam at Roann have been restored to operational condition. There is no option to remove the dam, but a partnership was established with the Manchester University Environmental Studies Program; B.K. Riverfish, LLC; the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; and the Stockdale Mill Foundation in an effort to allow fish to migrate upstream while preserving the much-beloved view of the water-powered mill on the National Register of Historic Places. A $150,000 federal grant from the Ohio River Basin Fish Habitat Partnership through the Fish and Wildlife Service will help build a prototype modular fish passageway around the mill dam. The project includes research to describe the efficiency of this new design. Plans include a viewing area, informational materials and improved parking lot to encourage use and promote awareness of both the river and history at this site.
    Who: Awareness of the Eel River ecosystem as a significant natural resource has spurred partnerships with state and federal agencies, individuals, and private nonprofit organizations, including:
  • Manchester University (Environmental Studies),
  • Agricultural producers, 
  • Natural Resources Conservation Service, 
  • Indiana Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts, 
  • Wabash, Miami, Kosciusko, Whitley, Fulton, and Cass County Soil and Water Conservation Districts, 
  • Indiana Department of Natural Resources, 
  • Indiana Department of Environmental Management, 
  • Indiana Soybean Alliance, 
  • Indiana Corn Marketing Council, 
  • United States Fish and Wildlife Service,
  • National Fish Habitat Partnership,
  • Ohio River Basin Fish Habitat Partnership 
  • Waterborne Inc., 
  • Environmental Defense Fund, 
  • Cargill Foundation.
  • Natural Resources Conservation Service Mississippi River Basin Initiative