River Summit 2015


River Summit 2015 logo


On April 8, 9, and 11, 2015, the Tri-State Watershed Alliance hosted River Summit 2015 in downtown Fort Wayne, Indiana, at the Grand Wayne Convention Center. The event brought together agriculture and urban groups to discuss, experience, and celebrate our most valuable resource – WATER.

Confluence of the St. Marys and St. Joseph RiversThe first River Summit in Fort Wayne was held during the summer of 2011. At that time, riverfront development was just beginning to become a community buzzword. That first summit concentrated on what would need to be done to begin to develop our riverfronts. Along with other area events, it awakened in the community a sense of longing for the rivers to play a significant role in our recreational and economic development life.

The success of the 2011 River Summit coupled with recent developments throughout the Western Lake Erie Basin Watershed (WLEB) meant the region would benefit greatly from taking a fresh look at our rivers. Beyond the needs at the time of industry and municipalities, communities were increasingly looking to the natural environment around their rivers for new economic development opportunities. Yet recent news  about the impaired waters of the Maumee River Watershed, which comprises most of the WLEB, left citizens with questions about the quality and feasibility of using their local rivers.

The 2015 River Summit brought together professional organizations during the day on Wednesday, April 8th, in one location providing an opportunity for their collaboration on pressing water issues. The evening featured presentations by Chad Pregracke and Keith Bowers.

At the age of 17, Chad Pregracke, who grew up working and playing on the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers, became concerned with the toxic accumulation of trash along their banks. After reporting the trash for years with no action taken, he took it upon himself to clean up the rivers and founded Living Lands & Waters. (www.livinglandsandwaters.org). He talked about his experience cleaning up rivers and proving that one man can make a difference in such a huge environment.

The Tennessee Avenue Bridge over the St. Joseph River in Fort Wayne Indiana.Keith Bowers, president and founder of Biohabitats, Inc. (www.biohabitats.com), which has a goal to “restore the earth and inspire ecological stewardship, spoke on “Watershed Thinking – Taking a Holistic Approach.”

Thursday, April 9th, was a full day of information and education sessions for residents and professionals alike. The focus was on better understanding the current state of our rivers as well as the opportunities our rivers offer for economic growth and community building.

Saturday April 11th was a family-focused day on and along our rivers. Free activities and experiences that were associated with the multiple facets our rivers and riparian environment has to offer were provided. Activities took place along the St. Marys River between the Historic Wells Street Bridge and City of Fort Wayne’s Water Filtration Plant.

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  1. Pingback: River Summit II – April 8, 9 and 11 | IPFW Environmental Resources Center

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