FORT WAYNE, Ind. (AP) — A nearly 2-mile-long earthen berm through a northeastern Indiana marsh that’s designed to keep Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes is almost complete, months after heavy rains temporarily halted the project.
Torrential rains prevented a contractor on the $3.5 million project from doing earth-moving work this summer within the Eagle Marsh nature preserve near Fort Wayne. But Indiana’s dry autumn allowed crews to make quick progress, and most of the remaining work involves seeding the expanded berm with native grasses and wildflowers, said Betsy Yankowiak, director of preserves and programs for the nonprofit Little River Wetlands Project.
“There were really no major stumbling blocks once they got started,” Yankowiak told The Journal Gazette.
The berm through Eagle Marsh is designed to prevent carp from crossing from the Wabash River watershed into the Maumee River, which empties into Lake Erie in Toledo, Ohio, during flooding. The berm is more than 9,000 feet long, ranges in height from 6 to 12 feet and is about 80 feet wide.
Eagle Marsh is considered the second-most important spot — after the Chicago Area Waterway System — for stopping Asian carp from reaching the Great Lakes.
The marsh drains into both the Lake Erie and Mississippi River watersheds, making it a potential crossroads for Asian carp that are already in the Wabash River.
Eagle Marsh, which covers more than 700 acres, is co-owned by the Little River Wetlands Project and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.
Yankowiak said that in addition to halting the possible spread of carp and other invasive species, the wider berm will make it easier for Eagle Marsh’s turtles, frogs, deer, mink and raccoons to roam around the preserve’s Graham-McCulloch Ditch.
Excavation at Eagle Marsh created 12 more acres of wetlands there, which Yankowiak said will be a boon for bird-watchers. She said the berm will be closed to visitors until grasses and other plants are established next fall.
When it’s ready, she said, “the top of the berm is going to make a really amazing trail” that will offer views into the heart of the preserve.
Information from: The Journal Gazette