DNR grants will help stabilize banks of two rivers

A pair of grants awarded through the Indiana Department of Natural Resources — one to the City of Huntington, and one to a four-county commission — is designed to improve the stability of area river banks.

The grants, from the Lake and River Enhancement (LARE) program of the DNR’s Fish and Wildlife Division, include $40,000 to the Upper Wabash River Basin Commission to help pay for an engineering feasibility study of the stability of the Wabash River banks in Adams, Jay, Huntington and Wells counties.

Doug Sundling, the commission’s chair, says that group will meet with DNR representatives on Sept. 11 to find out how it should proceed with the study.

It’s the first time the commission has been involved in a LARE grant, Sundling said.

“It’s kind of a learning experience for us,” he said.

The second grant, for $64,000, was awarded to the City of Huntington for stabilization of the bank of part of the Little River.

The removal of a dam in the Little River near Jefferson Street last December resulted in a change in how the river flows, explains Bryn Keplinger, director of community development and redevelopment.

“We knew the river was going to change,” he says. “We just didn’t know how it was going to change.”

After the dam’s removal, the river found a new flow path and began undermining the north bank from Briant Street almost to the dam. The LARE grant will pay to help stabilize the bank, a project that could cost as much as $80,000, Keplinger says.

“How we’re going to do that remains to be seen,” he says.

The city will work with state and federal officials to come up with a stabilization plan. That plan, Keplinger says, will take into account aesthetic considerations for residents whose back yards extend to the river.

The second part of the project will be to divert water from the bank, possibly by placing large rocks in the river. That will be done in a manner not to impede canoes and kayaks, Keplinger says.

Keplinger says the project could begin late this year or early next year, with final touches, including planting trees and other vegetation, in early spring. Meetings will be set with adjacent property owners to discuss the project, he says.