Archive for April, 2011

6th Annual Save Maumee’s EARTH DAY FUNNY VIDEO!

Monday, April 25th, 2011

Well, we are considered a good natured bunch, with a sense of humor…

Celebrity Collage

See our attempts at getting some nationwide attention!  We gave a funny shout out to Ellen DeGeneres, John Stewart, Jimmy Kimmel, Steven Colbert & Oprah.  We figured any media attention is good attention, even if it is a little tainted!  We think that all the trash we pull out of our Three Rivers in Fort Wayne is ridiculous and wanted to share a little satire in our Earth Day efforts.  We have been accused of being “rough around the edges and a little crass,” so we did not want to disappoint!  Remember, we are a 100% unpaid volunteer group, so you get what you pay for!  Dirty rivers, however, are no laughing matter.  Let it be very clear though, we only want clean water, clean rivers and reduced pollution and we are willing to do something about it.  It is one thing that brings us all to a consensus.  Thank you for your continued support!

Thank you to everyone who make our events a complete success….AGAIN!

The first 30 seconds are specific to the celebrity, and the rest of the 2 minute video are basically the same.

For Ellen DeGeneres Video

For John Stewart Video

For Steven Colbert Video

For Oprah Winfrey Video

For Jimmy Kimmel Video

Our official statistics for our 6th Annual Earth Day alone:

  • 2 TONS of trash removed from our rivers & riparian area and floodways
  • 480 Native Trees planted
  • 150 lbs of approved DNR native seed planted
  • 4,000 sq. ft. of erosion control mats installed
  • $1,000 dollars worth of pre-grown plants (plant plugs)
  • Raised awareness successfully for 322 men, women and children that attended our open non-house!  THANK YOU!

Information from Earth Day Happenings…Update to follow soon!

Tuesday, April 19th, 2011

Save Maumee’s 6th Annual  EARTH DAY 2011 Celebration!
Coordinated by Save Maumee Grassroots Organization

  Loving your rivers since 2001!       

Safety Sheet – Please take a moment now and read!

 A  METH-LAB *DO NOT TOUCH*DANGER*Find someone in a Save Maumee shirt.

o        Go on your walk with a buddy so you can help and watch each other!

o        Do not walk on unstable stream banks, disturbing these banks-including the vegetation growing upon them-can accelerate erosion and lead to a collapse.  Some of the plants you step on may have been planted by another participant! Be part of the solution, not part of the problem! NO STEPPING ON PLANTS.

o       Don’t pick up any hypodermic needles, or other medical or hazardous waste or animal carcasses’ or manure but please notify someone to dispose of anything in question.  DO NOT TOUCH DEAD BIRDS. (bird flu & notify someone)

o       We only want adults picking up sharp objects like glass because we do not want any children handling anything on which they may accidentally cut themselves. Adequate adult supervision is required at all times for anyone under 18!    
                               **DO NOT LEAVE YOUR CHILDREN ON A RIVERBANK**


o       Be alert at all times for holes or obstacles near the riverbank, wear shoes that are in good condition and have traction there is always the potential for harm.

o       We require gloves for hands, and shoes for climbing…you will get muddy.

o       Be alert for stinging insects and animals do bite.

o       Beware of plants. Watch for poison ivy, poison sumac, poison oak, and other skin-irritating vegetation.  REMEMBER: leaves of three…let them be.

o       The water is very cold, and moves quickly, no matter how calm it seems!   

Keep children away from water and don’t get in or fall in!  Death can occur in 6 minutes in cold water.

o   Never wade in swift or high water, currents can sweep you away quickly!

o   Any open soars or blisters would be a risk for infection because of the unsanitary condition of the river and/or things that may have sat in river water.

o    Do not be under the influence of alcohol or drugs because injury would be more likely.

o   Never drink the water ~use hand washing buckets with sanitizer to clean hands often, and be wary when eating and drinking if your hands have been in contact with stream water or garbage. – Use our cleaning station where you checked in!

o   We DO like insects, they feed many things ~ DO NOT KILL THEM.

IF YOU DO NOT SIGN THE LIABILITY WAIVER PLEASE DO NOT PARTICIPATE!  This is a volunteer event and we want everyone safe, but we are not responsible for illness, injuries or death, AND we have cameras that may take your picture, so please sign the waiver if you haven’t already and have everyone in your group do the same.


This day is for you, our river and our larger community…to be enjoyed by ALL!

The River truly thanks you from its bottom!

How it works:

 Thank you for participating in Earth Day 2011 Celebration.  Please…sit down and speak to someone and speak to everyone! There are many educators and activists here that want to share with you!  Smile at strangers.  WE want everyone to love the rivers as we do!  We are always excited about how much we have to plant and restore this year!  It took all year to raise this much money for only seed and erosion control mats! Please donate TODAY for Earth Day 2012, we are only citizen sponsored, and 100% volunteer but this is a FREE event that takes much coordination.

1.  Sign in and REGISTER FIRST, SIGN LIABILITY WAIVER and listen/read any information being presented about our rivers. – Many people are around – Talk to someone – READ THE SIGNS ON BOTH SIDES OF THE TENT FOR EXACT TIMES OF ACTIVIES– Walk over to seed / plant / shovel station afterwards.

 2.  Plant seeds on your walk AND/OR Trees.  Don’t walk on new life please!

 Planting Seed: – Planting Midwestern Prairie Grass Erosion Control Mix & suggested by Earth Source Inc/Heartland Restoration & Save Maumee’s Seed from / Fox Island Seed Gathering underneath 4,500 sq ft of erosion control mats TODAY.

              a.   Find a good area where grass needs to grow and may not get washed away    
                             by the first rain.
b.  Stir up some dirt with your shoe/rake/ stick.
c.  Sprinkle some seeds in the raked up dirt
d.  Cover the newly planted seeds with the dirt you stirred up.
e.  Step-on the freshly planted seeds to hold them in the earth, SECURE the soil.


Planting a Tree:

      a.       Pick out a tree you would like to plant in an area further than 10ft from larger trees. – Don’t forget to grab a shovel!
Plant all the roots into the soil so they are suspended, not cramped roots.  Preferably in very-moist soil
c.       Secure it firmly with the leftover soil and step all around it so the soil will not move if we have a rain event in the near future.    

     3.  Pick up trash on your way back to the large dumpster.     

            a.   Don’t walk farther than you want to walk back.
Remember the suggestions on the safety page.

   GOOD JOB! This is grassroots organizing at its finest!  ~
               The benthos community THANKS YOU!


Check out signs on BOTH sides of the tent for exact location of activities.

11AM – Sign in at the Information Table and go for a walk, wonder what all the buildings contain around your waterways, see it for yourself, notice the beauty in your surroundings.
Sounds of Saturn will be our groovy entertainment till 1ish!

 11:30AM  -Judith Nastally ~ Neuhouser Nursery Native Plants & discussing specifically about the plants we will be installing TODAY!

NOON –  Dr. I.C. Coldwater talks about local water issues upstream and downstream.

NOON REMOTE SITE VOLUNTEERS LEAVE for large scale measured clean-up
– BIG BURLEY PEOPLE and helpful hands – Bring your truck, shovel and pull chains and cameras ~
– If you want to make a difference this is IT! 
– YOU HAVE the time it takes to remove one-and-one-half hours worth of trash from our rivers…GO
– RETURN TIME 1:45….BIG BURLEY PEOPLE and helpful hands RETURN to Niagara Drive for MEDIA BLITZ @ 1:45PM

1PM ~ Bob Dispenza from Allen County Parks speaks on energy and water conservation and demonstration of a car conversion battery pulse and glide driving!
The Wilderness will be rocking us into the afternoon!

1:45PM ~ MEDIA BLITZ…calling all media and river lovers!  Bring your homemade sign for our media blitz and we need your help.  Have a good time with it! A MUST SEE! You will laugh. Find our sign making area by the face painting.

2:30PM~ Soarin’ Hawk Raptor Rehab presents native raptors in the area ~ SSSHHH WE NEED TO BE QUIET it disturbs these wild raptors of prey.

3:00PM ~ Environmental Children’s Story Time.  Written by Save Maumee’s Earth Literacy Master Bruce Allen

3:30PM ~ Save Maumee STOMP – YOU planted it! We have to make sure it is secured into the ground! The river raises and falls quickly because all the trees have been removed and replaced with large stones.  STOMP the soil around the plants and burry the seeds with your pressure.  WATCH OUT for new growing life and don’t STOMP that!

Soarin’ Hawk Raptor Demo w/ full dumpster!

What are all these seeds we are planting all day? Joe Pye Weed, Prairie Cord Grass, Common Milk Weed, Tall Ironweed, Bidens, Switchgrass, Yellow & Gray Headed Coneflower, Monarda, Rosinweed, Spiderwort, Big Blue Stem, Cup Plant, Rice Cut Grass, Virginia & Canada Wild Rye, Prairie Dock, Prairie Dropseed, Mountain Mint, New England Aster, Yarrow, Lemon Queen, Grey Goldenrod, Dogwood Berries, Black Eyed Susan, Evening Primrose, Fox Glove, Nodding Onion and RASPBERRY BUSHES.

What Trees are we planting today? 210 Hazelnut, 60 Burr Oak, 40 River Birch, 40 White Swamp Oak, 28 White Oak, 20 Flower Dogwood, 20 Butterfly Bushes, 10 Tulip Poplars, 8 Red Oak, 6 Red Maple – A total of  442 TREES!

What are the plant plugs? $1,000 worth of pre-grown plants include – 245 Carex lacustris,  147 Glyceria strata, 147 Heliopsis Helianthoides, 98 Hystrix patula, 98 Carex muskingumensis, 3 Silphium perfoliatum, 3 Elymus villosus!

What else throughout The Day?

  • MASSIVE seed planting for everyone and 4,500 sq. ft. of erosion control mats installed TODAY!  Want to know what about the plants? Come to the 11:30 explanation of each plant by Judith Nastally! All seed and chaff weighed approximately 150lbs.
  • Largest Save Maumee erosion control project to date – 4,500 sq. ft of GeoJute (coconut mesh) will be installed over native DNR approved seed blend TODAY and completely disintegrate in 4 years, leaving a nice mesh of grasses.
  • Sounds of Saturn will be playing between 11am-1pm – an encore for your rivers!
  • The Wilderness – non-fiction rock band playing originals and jam out classics ~ making the play for a 5th time at a Save Maumee event @ 1pm-4pm
  • Make a Sign – supplies are limited or BYO sign & use it at 1:45-TELL US HOW YOU LOVE MOTHER EARTH!
  • Bag Monster makes his debut at Save Maumee’s Earth Day
  • Face Painting
  • Andy’s Horse Tours and Rentals – we couldn’t get a big enough truck with a hitch to transport on a Sunday and it was going to cost $400 for transportation costs~ BOO but we love our friends & see you next year!
  • Chuck & Birds ~ LOCAL grown food served to you on the riverbanks! 11:30-1
  • Sports & Spirits on Anthony Blvd. serving 20 pizzas at 3pm
  • Health Food Shoppe snacks
  • Old Crown Roasters Coffee
  • REUSABLE water bottles from ACRES Land Trust & US ARMY & Upper Maumee Watershed Partnership. – DON”T BUY BOTTLED WATER
  • Pick up lots of educational material and read it later!

Looking for the things you find on your riverbanks

Funny what we find on the riverbanks!

-Largest Trash–    Most Likely to Contaminate Our River Trash–   Funniest Trash–                  Weirdest Trash-  Most Interesting Find-   Most Useful Trash – BEST Little River Hero (1 boy – 1 girl)       Hardest Worker River Hero –   Largest Unified Group of River Heroes –   

PRE 2011 Save Maumee Stats: Because YOU: REMOVED 9 tons of GARBAGE from the Rivers and Riverbanks of the Fort Wayne Area -PLANTED over 1,000 trees 800 lbs of DNR approved native riparian seed installed over 10,000 sq ft of erosion control mats planted 50 native fruit trees, 50 raspberry/blackberry bushes, harvested 56 lbs worth of seed and raised awareness SUCCESSFULLY! – Planning to plant several hundred pounds of seed TODAY!

NO CORPORATE SPONSORSHIP: 100% donations from our local citizens go only and directly to best management practices for naturalization of riparian areas – this is what grassroots organizing is all about! ALL VOLUNTEERS~ All money came from: Grateful Music Productions/Save Maumee Rock Out-Camp Out, Berlin Music Pub’s PUNK PARTY, Save Maumee Earth Day 2010, Save Maumee Canoe Clean-Up 2010, Save Maumee Presents: Sounds of Saturn & Les Nester at Dash-In, Sports & Spirits Bar & Grill.  Namnaste to many small monetary donors! Save Maumee did not raise as much money as last year but we are very proud to supply you with these effective erosion control techniques for OUR riverbanks!

What is the Media Blitz @ 1:45PM?

Save Maumee Grassroots Organization is attempting to make national T.V. ~ we want the media to help us draw attention to our efforts and many issues that face our waterways because we want CLEAN WATER.  If you do not want to be video recorded, be aware of the cameras and keep working out of sight & sign the waiver. ~ EVERYONE WELCOME!

We hope you will…just roll with it and have a good time!

#1 Look like you are having the time of your life, SMILE, dance, hula hoop, juggle, be funny and show excitement.  Free expression time!

#2 Gather close together at the designated sign: “Media Blitz Here @1:45.”

 #3– We will be giving a shout-out to the following people & hold up signs for:

YELL: WE LOVE YOU _____________________


#1 – Ellen Degeneres –  The Wilderness plays for our dancing pleasure-DANCE
#2 – Jimmy Kimmel – We will mention Harry Baals our former mayor
#3 – John Stewart – We will mention Harry Baals our former mayor
#4 – Steven Colbert – STEVEN STEVEN STEVEN – chant his name
#5 – Oprah Winfrey – We want you to know what is happening to your Great Lakes
#6 – Dr. Oz – we want to know about the contaminants that are in our water and what long term exposure does to our body?  Cryptosporidium, Mercury, PCB, Heavy metals, non-pharmaceutical grade fluoride, hexovalent chromium, Perchlorate, phosphorous?

Each of the celebrities will get about 10-20 seconds of us yelling for them…then we will CUT and start the next designated person.

 GOT IT?  Impromptu grassroots organizing?
Doin’ it for your rivers!

 Disclaimer: Save Maumee does not carry power as to the fate of our rivers.  YOU DO! People need to feel more connected to each other, to nature, and to the things that are most valuable.  We feel a personal connection to our waterways and love our rivers and we want you to as well.  Civic duty and helping your fellow man should be words that fall from your mouth continuously.  We want this event to leave you hopeful and empowered.  Please realize that we all want the same thing  – CLEAN WATER.  Water is a right not a luxury and keeping pollution out of our rivers is our priority.  We do not talk politics, but you are making a political statement by being here. 

 “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, dedicated citizens can change the world… indeed it is the only thing that ever has.”                        Margaret Mead

Special THANK YOU from Save Maumee to the following people who helped bring all of us together this year! Our events are FREE but ALL donations go to projects like this one! Give till it hurts – OUCH!

Heartland Communities Inc. 501 © (3) Non-For Profit tax exempt umbrella sponsor.

Allen County Soil & Water Conservation District – 410 Bare Root Trees

Soaring Hawk Raptor Rehab – Birds of prey non-for-profit rescue group

Do-It Best & Home Depot – Shovels, Rakes, hoes & GREAT extras

Top Notch Tree Service (Kenny& Becki) – greenhouse & consultation

Heartland Restoration /Earth Source – Chaff, seed, plants, consultation Eric Ummel

Partnership for Water Quality – Matt Jones – awareness raising & education

Judith Nastally – seed, plant & tree education about the specific plants

City of Fort Wayne – Waived our Assembly Permit Fee for the 3nd time!

Old Crown Coffee (Mike & Jen) – Coffee & drinkin’ supplies

Health Food Shoppe & American Rivers– All natural snacks & trash bags

Camp Potawotami  –  20X15 tent

Citizens Action Coalition-Printed Material, long-distance calls, endless paper

Save Maumee Grassroots Org  – Erosion Control Mats / raspberry bushes / T-Shirts / stickers/ native local seeds & general fun provider

USA Air Force / ACRES Land Trust / Upper Maumee Watershed Partnership – donated REUSABLE bottles – STOP BUYING SINGLE USE WATER BOTTLES!

Hall’s Triangle Park – gloves, 5 gallon buckets, trash bags

Chuck & Bird’s Market, Bistro & Home Delivery serves high quality foods grown and produced by our local farmers and artisans!

Summit City Noise – Save Maumee banner & demonstration

Bob Dispenza from County Parks Dept. – showing us his homemade “green” vehicle

City Utilities Solid Waste Dept-      30 yard dumpster

Fox Island & County Parks:  Use of land for seed gathering

Allen County Public ACCESS –  Produced the Earth Day for several years now!

The Wilderness  & Sounds of Saturn– Live entertainment  – Rivers LOVE music

Green Dog – Goodies for your pet ~ prizes!

Indiana Computer Service – Web & Computer expert consulting provided

Phi Theta Kappa – Alpha Kappa Nu Chapter IPFW – advertizing & labor

Lydia Savitz & Jason LaMont & new-born Lee!  Port-A-Jon donation

Sports & Spirits on Anthony Blvd. – pizza and plant/seed purchase

PRINTING! WE ALWAYS NEED PRINTING – but got it from Shannon Gill & Becky Tietz

Greatful Music Productions – PA system and all their time! Thanks Doug & Rose!

Friends of the Rivers – matched us $1,000 worth of plant plugs! (pre-grown plants)

Marissa Jones, Ryan Bailey, Grace Strahm, Liz Magno, Rebecca Tietz, Mike Miller, Ellen Ley, Bruce Allen, Craig Thorne, Greg Konger, Burk, Les Lesser, Dan Murray, Jen Hancock, Dana Jinx, Brian Foster, Melanie McKinnley & Wade & Davis King– All do whatever Save Maumee asks!

…AND ALL OUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY WHO HELP EVERYDAY AS VOLUNTEERS  The heart of grassroots belongs to PEOPLE who donate time, supplies, money, expertise – or ALL of these things!

Save Maumee’s 6th Annual Earth Day Celebration

Wednesday, April 6th, 2011

~ Save Maumee’s 6th Annual Earth Day 2011
~ SUNDAY April 17 ~
~ 11AM – 4PM ~
All Ages ~ Rain or Shine ~  Action & Education ~ Seed Planting & Large Scale Erosion Control Project ~ Free Fun

Open-Non House…working on improving your rivers with only citizen sponsorship and 100% volunteers since 2005!  Looking for your back muscles!

See where to find the Earth Day fun CLICK HERE:

**Sign in and REGISTER FIRST and listen/read any information being presented about your rivers in Indiana – please sign the liability waiver, or you cannot participate.  (just keeping the lawyers happy :))Save Maumee Grassroots Organization is dedicated to raising awareness about the conditions of the 3 Rivers in Fort Wayne, Indiana while facilitating ecosystem restoration projects; ultimately repairing and improving the St. Joseph, St. Mary and Maumee Rivers. Revitalizing the St. Joe/Maumee Watershed will protect and restore the environment, while improving the economic, aesthetic and recreational value.  We are organizing hypothesis driven restoration projects, which place a high priority on monitoring, developing and restoring rivers with a positive environmental impact. Research into historical importance of our navigable waterways and current pollution conditions began in 2001 and Save Maumee began bank-stabilization projects in 2005 to begin the slow process of reversing years of pollution.

Watch our Earth Day Video from 2010!

Watch Save Maumee’s 2011 PSA
Save Maumee 2011 PSA

What else has been going on?

*Tree removal on Fort Wayne riverbanks due to potential levee disturbance: Save Maumee’s Response

*Saints on the Streets in Fort Wayne supporting cleaner waterways by encouraging homeless to clean up their streambanks…Save Maumee is proud that other groups and excited to know that other groups are working for the cause.

* HR 872 passed in the House: This exempts pesticides users who spray over water from obtaining a Clean Water Act permit. It will allow our waters to be polluted with high levels of pesticides which will damage public health and the environment. This legislation is a disaster.

Grand Lake St. Mary’s died in Ohio, so how is land application of industrial waste products being passed in Indiana HB 1112?  This will allow a variance from previously illegal land application of industrial waste products that were adopted by the water pollution control board for safety of citizens!  Another article may explain why this bill has been introduced.

* Save Maumee & other environmental groups made it to Washington D.C. for 2011 Clean Water Week! – See what we said

* Save Maumee has created a Public Service Announcement, and eagerly await play circulation!

* Our Save Maumee Presented at the Dash-In: Sounds of Saturn & Les Nester and brought in enough money to buy an entire bag of Midwestern Prairie Grass @ $530 per acre – we will be placing this under the erosion control mats!  Thank you everyone for making a GREAT evening with FREEBEE giveaways from: Green Dog, Neuhouser Nursery, Hall’s, Fort Wayne Outfitters/Bike Depot & Save Maumee goodies!

* Find out when the sewers discharge in Fort Wayne Rivers: To receive an alert email from City of Fort Wayne click here

* IF you think that The Maumee River is disgusting, this may give us a fresh perspective!

Other Happenings Around Town

April 29 through May 8th  – BUY A PAIR OF SHOES – Come on in to Fort Wayne Outfitters / Bike Depot and buy a pair of Patagonia Shoes! (rumored to be the most environmentally friendly shoes on Earth).  These two businesses are donating proceeds from sales of Patagonia Shoes to Save Maumee!

April 16   – Annual Eagle Marsh Clean-Up from 10:00am to 12:00pm
Meet at the Eagle Marsh barn for this annual clean-up to help remove litter from our restored habitats. Plants, wildlife and hikers will benefit. Please wear boots and bring gloves.

April 22  – Earth Day Tree Planting from 3:30pm to 4:30pm –
Meet at the Eagle Marsh barn. A tree planting at the largest habitat restoration project in the area is a wonderful way to spend some time on Earth Day. Join us to plant native trees and shrubs at Eagle Marsh. Please call 260-478-2515.

April 27thCommunity-based Green Infrastructure FREE public webinar, you can use Save Maumee as your watershed group!
Register here

April 29 –   Arbor Day Tree Planting at Eagle Marsh from 4:00pm to 5:00pm
Senator Richard Lugar is sponsoring a tree planting at the largest habitat restoration project in the area to celebrate national Arbor Day. Plant native trees and shrubs in areas at Eagle Marsh. Please call 260-478-2515 or email if you will be bringing a group or if you are interested in being a team leader.

April 30th & May 1st – Sol-Fest at Fox Island – Celebrating the outdoors with food, music & sun. If you want to participate in the fun or run a booth. Check it out

3rd Tuesday of every month – Green Drinks is looking for someone to organize Fort Wayne Green Drinks!  Please email Julia Gorrel at or 260.418.0071

June 25, 2011 – Riverfest on the banks of the St. Joe at IPFW!  Fun includes sea plane & water ski show, pontoon/kayak/canoe trips, fireworks, live entertainment on the rivers. Come & Celebrate the positive things about our rivers!  –  Steel Dynamics Inc. is title sponsor for RiverFest, sitting at the table with Save Maumee we look forward to the transparancy of business practices improve the health and wealth of our rivers!  Call Dan Wire (260) 580-7415 to get involved or check out://

September 17, 2011-  Save Maumee’s 5th Annual Canoe Clean Up, Can YOU Clean Up? 
11am- 4pm Free canoes from Fort Wayne Outfitters Bike Depot with ID.  Spend a fun day with family and friends on the river cleaning up and educating yourself!  Canoe Clean-Up Details HERE

October 4 OR 24, 2011- Save Maumee’s 4th Annual Seed Harvest at Fox Island Nature Preserve 1pm – 4pm, exact date to be announced depending harvesting availability.   Seed Harvest Details HERE

Why Save Maumee chooses Earth Day?
“So long as the human species inhabits the Earth, proper management of its resources will be the most fundamental issue we face. Our very survival will depend upon whether or not we are able to preserve, protect and defend our environment. We are not free to decide about whether or not our environment “matters.” It does matter, apart from any political exigencies. We disregard the needs of our ecosystem at our mortal peril.” ~
~~U.S. Senator & Congressman Gaylord Nelson ~ Earth Day Founder [EPA JOURNAL, April 1980]

Our group is citizen driven only and 100% volunteer.

Thank you for your interest and caring about our local waterways! We ALL live downstream!

Facebook – OUR NEW PAGE!
A Greener Indiana

More Trees Removed Along Riverbanks?

Friday, April 1st, 2011

Trees along Edgewater & The Maumee River

Levee Tree Removal in Fort Wayne

It has recently come to the attention of Save Maumee that trees along the Maumee River and St. Mary’s River are indiscriminately being cut down by order of the Board of Public Works by orders of the US Army Corps of Engineers.  Apparently, this area of the riverbank lies on a levee and during one of the last big floods in Fort Wayne, the riverbank and the trees fell into the water.  The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is in charge of regulating levees by setting the safety guidelines and according to city planners, the US ACE directed the city to “remove the trees and make repairs or lose the acceptable rating of flood protection.”  This has resulted in the removal of hundreds of trees along the riverbanks of the Maumee River – in addition to trees removed from the St. Mary’s and St. Joe Rivers as well.

Maumee River @ Edgewater Blvd.

Straight from the Board Of Public Works

“Officials in Fort Wayne say there should be no trees cut down along the city’s flood levees because there aren’t any. The levees here were built by the corps in the 1990s, and the only trees near a levee are on the river side of the structure, where they slow the current and help stabilize the levee.  ‘Every year, (Army Corps inspectors) walk every inch of those levees,’ said Bob Kennedy, city public works director. Kennedy said the tree prohibition was issued by the corps in 2007, so any trees that needed to be cut down would have already been spotted and removed.” 
Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, 6/14/09.

Well Mr. Kennedy, you ARE cutting down trees, hundreds of them in the past 3 weeks.  Save Maumee recognizes the importance of levee safety and does not dispute that the city needs to be able to assess and observe the levees and keep our homes safe from floods.  We also recognize that the rivers are filthy; contaminated with E. coli, Mercury, PCB’s, nutrients, phosphorous, sewage, garbage and general pollution – and we do not see the city working to correct or repair any of these issues; aside from a federal mandate to separate the sewer and storm drains, which should have been started 20 years ago.  In the world of water, vegetation coexists along rivers.  The vegetation holds soil in place when water rises and falls.  Native plants with long taproots prevent soil from being washed downstream, filter water, attract diverse species of birds and insects, slow down and absorb water as it moves quickly through the banks during times of flooding and high water, while providing shade that increases Dissolved Oxygen in the water for wildlife.  Removal of that vegetation increases soil erosion.  Removal of vegetation is another reason streambanks to fall into the river.

Maumee River @ Niagara Dr.
Tree removal and stump grinding has been a hot discussion topic around town.  Between Ash Trees being removed due to the Emerald Ash Borer invasion (equaling 24% of the tree canopy in Fort Wayne) and the Oak Trees being eaten by the Gypsy Moths; no tree is sacred from removal or damage.  Now trees are being removed due to “potential levee disturbance.”  According to a former employee of the Corps Engineer and Research Development, “There has never been a documented problem with a tree.” (MSNBC- Associated Press 6/9/2009)  “The literature on the presence of vegetation indicates that it may actually strengthen a levee,” said Andrew Levesque, senior engineer for King County Washington. Yet, the mowing down of trees in Fort Wayne, never seems to end.  The city has no plans to replace the trees elsewhere, except in mowed city/county parks, and does not see a problem with tree removal. (Board of Public Works, April 2011)

Maumee River @ Edgewater Blvd.

Hurricanes breaking levees and the affects in Fort Wayne, IN?

Tree removal on levees has been an ongoing problem around the country since Hurricane Katrina blasted through New Orleans, destroying the levees built to protect the city.  Recognizing that part of the issue in New Orleans, was the failing levee system, the US ACE has taken a fresh look at all of the levee systems in the U.S.  They have compiled a list of blanket regulations that every city or county lying in a floodplain must follow.   The US ACE tightened its regulations with specific criteria regarding structure safety and vegetation.  But, they tightened their regulations claiming there is an understanding “that levee systems commonly share the same space as water conveyance and critical ecosystems and habitats, and that working with these interests is vital in effectively managing flood risks.”  (Recommendations for a National Levee Safety Program; A Report to Congress from the National Committee on Levee Safety, 2009)

Maumee River @ Edgewater Blvd.

Yet Fort Wayne indiscriminately cuts trees out on entire riverbanks without planning to replace them anywhere – while our rivers get dirtier and turn into culverts.

What do citizens say?

Concerned citizens have contacted Save Maumee regarding the removal of these trees, filling in of flood plains (approving permits and failing to enforce fines), business vehicles leaking directly into storm drains, waste gates being open with water flushing out during times without rain, concern about removal of vegetation without plans to replant elsewhere along the river and the lack of city planning that coincides with increasing the water and ecological quality along the banks, along with other issues.  In fact, we can be bold enough to say that our organization is working to correct more than a century of neglect, degradation, and abuse on the Maumee River in Fort Wayne and have yet to see others take an active approach to STOP pollution.  We see the city cutting down trees, changing the structure of the rivers, and having a continued disregard for the community’s greatest natural assets – which also directly affects those downstream from us.  And we (Save Maumee 100% volunteers) continue to pull tires, plastic, stoves, refrigerators, etc. out of the riverbanks while also planting the trees and vegetation that actually do some good.  ALL of which has been DNR approved.  The questions remain:  1) Who decides where these trees are removed? 2) Who is advising the board and the “experts” that have been consulted? 3) Who is footing the bill for this large scale project?


BEFORE                                                                                         AFTER

Army Corps issues tree chopping orders; Policy aimed at protecting levees draws fire from locals 

The above article states that “Army Corps of Engineers are on a mission to chop down every tree in the county Columbia LA…but later settled on a few dozen.”

The corps eventually dropped the idea because of state wildlife officials complained that the policy would destroy habitat, and residents in Sacramento and elsewhere objected that it would turned the rivers into more than barren culverts.  The corps eventually dropped the idea.

So why cut down every tree indiscriminately along the levees in Fort Wayne, IN?

Lawyers have sent a letter of inquiry into the massive tree removal along local riverbanks and we eagerly await the report.  See it here: Request for Information

All this came about in the Army Corps of Engineers in 2006 due to Hurricane Katrina smashing the New Orleans levees in Aug. 2005 and now letters from ACE are making their way into local requirements.  The Corps wants a way to protect levees, yet our riverbanks have nothing to do with a hurricane and the City of New Orleans being built below sea level and the levees bursting from the pressure of a violent ocean during a hurricane event. TREES had NOTHING to do with it!

One reason that city continues to have flooding issues may have to do with the land use.  More than 85% of Indiana’s wetlands have been eliminated since the 1800s, and many forested wetlands have been lumbered for their high-value hardwood.  More than five million acres of wetlands used to exist in the state, but just over 800,000 acres remain today.   Our wetlands are nature’s kidneys and filtrate pollution as well. Water is more destructive than fire, if you keep it at bay in one part of a rip/rap levee area…it will find a way to meander somewhere else; that area may never have flooded before.  Removing trees “may contribute to the erosion of the banks.”  It definitely contributes to the fast rising and falling of water levels called flashiness.   City planning remains to be poor, even though building previously on a floodplain was not this administrations mistake.  The city/county continually ignores the importance of the ecological systems along the rivers, which also provides safety to the quality of the waterways, fish, birds, etc. Highlights of Plan-it Allen – Allen County’s Comprehensive Plan

An old wise man, spoke of an idiom.   “Watch out for people who talk out of both sides of their mouth.”  This means ~ To say different things to different people on the same subject, in order to appease the one with whom you speak.   Save Maumee uses the old cliche’ to point out water issues…
Actions always speak louder than words.