I hope this newsletter finds you in good spirits and well.  The winter wasn’t too bad this year but boy are we seeing the rain this spring.  I feel like due to this weather the lakes have gotten off to a slow start this season.  Rest assured I’m sure the rain will slow down at some point and everyone will be eager to be on the lakes.

Fish Stocking:  In the past couple weeks, I was excited to take delivery of 4,000 largemouth bass.  We had to spend a little bit more money to get the 5”-7” but I think it was well worth it, due the survival rate compared to the smaller ones.  The SFLECC was able to accomplish this by contributions by individuals, along with a $1,000 grant that we were fortunate to receive from the White County Community Foundation.  Thank you again to everyone!  This not only allows us to continue to enhance our lakes but it also brings fishing tournaments to our area, which helps support the local tourism and our economy.

Dredging:  Lake Shafer dredging has started back up, but again, a late start due to weather.  We also had major repairs that needed to be done, so the guys spent a couple weeks just getting those done.  The dredging has started this year below Lowes Bridge and will continue downstream, pumping material to the Wooldridge retention pond.   We will then be working our way to Hoagland Ditch, and then Keans Bay to work on silt traps.

Along with our dredging comes the idle zone where we are dredging!  I know this isn’t convenient for some, but please abide by the law.  We are required to have an idle zone where we are dredging and it’s for everyone’s safety.  The good news is the material where we are currently working is light, so we can hopefully move at a decent pace and not hinder any one area too long.

One of the things we’ve been working on over the course of this past year is trying to come up with a barge we could build to be able to do land-based dredging on Lake Freeman.  This allows us to have equipment on a barge, along with an excavator on land, and haul the silt away.  We’ve just recently been able to start this project and are very excited to get it accomplished.  Our biggest challenge on Lake Freeman is being able to have land for the silt that we remove.  There isn’t anywhere close enough, so we would have to truck it away.

Lake Levels:  Some of you have been asking what is going on with the lake level situation.  The following is from John Koppelmann who is our Chairman for the Lake Level Task Force.  John has been involved with this from the time it started in 2012; and although his term ran out from being on the SFLECC Board of Directors, he has made it his mission to continue this through to the end.  We couldn’t be more fortunate to have him, along with all of our Task Force members, seeing this through.  I personally want to thank them for their time and effort.

“Earlier this year, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commissioners decided against their own staff’s recommendations and sided with United States Fish & Wildlife (USFW) to amend their license with NIPSCO, incorporating the Abnormal Low Flow parameters.  After that heartbreaking decision, the Task Force looked at its options and decided that the next step was to file in the United States Court of Appeals.  So in March of this year, our DC attorney filed in the appellate court in Washington DC against FERC and their ruling.  Our DC attorney feels we have a good case and that all of our findings over the course of the last few years will provide good evidence that the USFW science is flawed. And they feel that a Federal judge will have the authority to overturn FERC’s decision.

At this point, the process is in the filing status and it might be towards the latter part of the summer before oral arguments are held.  At this time, we are again looking for donations to help with our legal fees through our Keep the Lake Levels Fund.”  – John Koppelmann, Lake Level Task Force Chairman.

Thank you for working together with us, as always it is a joint effort.  Our lakes are a vital part of our community and we work hard at enhancing them and protecting all involved.  Please be safe this summer and enjoy!

In Greatest Regard,

Gabrielle Haygood, Executive Director