DNR offers pointers to county park board

Department of Natural Resources biologist Jed Pearson, left, makes a point during the Jan. 27 meeting of the Noble County Park Board. At right is park board member Jim Haddock.

ALBION — A canoe/kayak event on the Elkhart River?

The Noble County Park Board got some expert advice at its Jan. 27 meeting in the Noble County Public Library in Albion.

Department of Natural Resources biologist Jed Pearson attended the meeting, as did Kyle Quandt, who is the principal planner and grant manager for the Northeastern Indiana Regional Coordinating Council.

Quandt is organizing a bicycle and boating event to be held June 11 in Fort Wayne. That event will begin and end near the Wells Street Bridge.

“We’re splitting up into the three rivers,” Quandt said. “We’re giving them four hours.”

Her event will include informational stops along the way.

Quandt said the Noble County Park Board could — and maybe should — have a table at the Fort Wayne event to drum up interest for its own canoe/kayak event on the Elkhart.

“We’re trying to promote what we do have,” board member John Metzger said. “Our first step is to get people on the river. Our goal is to get people out of their chairs and out doing something.”

A date has not been set for the Noble County venture, nor has a route been finalized.

That’s where Pearson, who has worked for the DNR for 40 years, came in.

The board asked Pearson where good starting and ending points would be on the Elkhart River.

Pearson suggested three DNR-controlled public access points as good possibilities. Those three locations are in the vicinity of U.S. 6, C.R. 600N and C.R. 525N.

“There’s no legal issues to be worried about,” Pearson said. “It you want to be out in nature, this is the way to go.”

The best parking available would be at the public access site off U.S. 6, which has room for between 20 and 30 cars.

The board asked Pearson several questions regarding permission uses of using the river. Pearson stressed that while he is not a lawyer, he believed the board would not have a problem if it used public access sites.

“It would work,” he said. “There’s no legal issues to be worried about.”

The section of the Elkhart River being discussed has never been declared navigable or nonnavigable by the state. Either designation could potentially affect the board’s plans.

As far as state approval for use of the river, Pearson said he could be the board’s contact person. Such an application would not be a hindrance, he said.

The board asked what time of year might be best. Pearson said any of the months being considered — June, July or August — would be suitable.

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