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Oct 25, 2019

(October 19, 2019 ) In many ways, our White River history show in July offered depth and context about the heritage of the waterway. In other ways, though, we barely skimmed the surface, particularly because the White River has been in the news so much during the last three months.

Civic leaders in Marion and Hamilton counties have unveiled the White River Vision Plan, a guide that emphasizes recreational opportunities on the river in the two counties.The attention has included a periodic series on the front pages of The Indianapolis Star that emphasized ongoing concerns. As The Star reported, "Even after the improvements to the sanitary sewer system are finished in 2025, Indianapolis will still dump huge amounts of pollution into the White River."

So Hoosier History Live once again plunges into all aspects of the river, from its use by flatboat crews who moved trade goods on the waterway during the early 1800s to the return of significantly larger numbers of some fish species, including bass, and other wildlife, thanks to progress achieved since the early 1980s in cleaning up the river.

Not only does Kevin Hardie, executive director of the Friends of the White River, return as a studio guest, we keep the phone lines open throughout the entire show for listeners who want to comment or ask questions about any aspect of the river's heritage. The phone number for the WICR-FM (88.7) studio is (317) 788-3314.

The Star series describes a 1982 survey that found only 35 species of fish in the West Fork of the White River; in contrast, 57 species were documented in 2011.

Referring to fish life during the mid-19th century, Kevin Hardie says:

Massive tunnels constructed under Indianapolis are part of the Dig Indy project, designed to stop the sanitary sewer system from overflowing into the White River during periods of heavy rainfall. Courtesy"'Trout' were supposedly speared from what were then crystal clear waters that did not carry the amounts of today's agricultural and developmental run-off that hold so much sediment. Actually, these fish probably were sauger, which are similar in shape to trout and related to walleye. I'm pleased to report that improving water quality over the years has allowed for them to reappear."

Earlier this year, civic leaders in Marion and Hamilton counties unveiled the White River Vision Plan, a guide to decision-making for the next 30 years. The plan calls for increased recreational opportunities on 58 miles of the river in the two counties.

In Marion County, the massive Dig Indy project is expected to be completed in 2025. Dig Indy is an underground tunnel system designed to stop the sanitary sewer system from overflowing into the river, as it has done during rainfalls for more than 100 years.

Our guest Kevin Hardie, who has been involved with Friends of the White River since its inception in 1985, frequently conducts on-water tours of the river.

Kevin is joined on the show by Mark Kesling, one of the original founders of Reconnecting to Our Waterways (ROW); he is involved with Partners for the White River.

Mark also is the founder and CEO of The daVinci Pursuit, a non-profit that uses art to engage the community in science education. In addition, he is the co-host, with Jill Ditmire, of She Says Art, He Says Science, the program that follows Hoosier History Live on WICR-FM at 1 pm on Saturdays.