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Pigeon River logjam removal begins next week

It’s that time again when the LaGrange County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) has received money from the Lake and River Enhancement (LARE) Division of the Fish and Wildlife Service under the U.S. Natural Resources to clean out a stretch of the Pigeon River.

The length of the Pigeon River that will be improved runs from Mongo to CR 390E at the trout rearing station. The cleanup will start on July 1 and end on September 30.

Officials floated the river on June 10 to evaluate what needs to be done on the stretch of the river that will be cleaned up. There were about 20 logjams that will be removed and they will also maintain the stretch that was cleaned up last year.

Last year the LARE fund allowed for the Pigeon River to be cleaned up from the county line between LaGrange and Steuben counties to CR 900E. It was a three-mile stretch of land, but a six-mile stretch of river.

The goal of the river cleanup is to help improve water quality, preserve the natural character of the river, preserve the natural habitat for the wildlife in the area, and improve accessibility for small watercraft on the river.

“You noticed the absence of logjams, but you didn’t even know he had been there,” said Martin Franke, district manager of the LaGrange County SWCD, about the logjam removal from last year.

When they remove the log jams they want to be as unobtrusive as they can for the preservation of the natural character of the river. Franke said that big equipment can’t be used and that they use minimal power tools. Last year the project was a maximum of a four-man job.

“It’s a lot of muscle power and not technology or equipment,” Franke stated. “It is really just good old-fashioned work.”

The logjam removal program has been a cooperative effort. The grant sponsor has been the LaGrange County SWCD. They put up a cash match and handle the grant administration, financial management, and in-kind services and project oversight.

In cooperation with the LaGrange County SWCD, the LaGrange County Commissioners have contributed a cash match to the grant. The area businesses in Mongo, primarily the Trading Post, helped to develop the grant proposal and contributed in-kind services.

They have to work in cooperation with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources Pigeon River Fish and Wildlife Area for the best time frame to clean out the river. The removal will not be done during hunting or trout spawning seasons.