river reflections from American Rivers

American Rivers recently sent its 2017 calendar which contains profundities on free-flowing rivers.  Enjoy!

“My soul has grown deep like the rivers.” Langston Hughes

“To put your hands in a river is to feel the chords that bind the earth together.”  Barry Lopez

“The rivers flow not past, but through us”.  John Muir

“There’s nothing … absolutely nothing … half so much worth doing as simply messing around in boats.   Kenneth Graham, The Wind in the Willows

“Many go fishing all their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after”.  Henry David Thoreau

“We forget that the water cycle and the life cycle are one”.  Jacques Cousteau

“Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it”.  Norman Maclean

The CED’s continuing attempts to justify a dam

Here is HTR’s social media post of September 13th responding to a report by The Herald Bulletin on the CED’s continuing efforts to make a case for a dam on White River–

Heart of the River

September 13 at 10:19am ·

Heart of the River will continue its mission to protect the free-flowing White River, ecologically sensitive areas, culturally and historically significant sites, and sacred spaces.

Follow this page for the latest news and information pertaining to OUR White River. #DontDamIt #SaveTheWhiteRiver

Link to September 12th report in The Herald Bulletin:




What This River Keeps, a novel by Hoosier author Greg Schwipps

I’ve been reading this novel which is one of many novels being loaned to book and community groups by Indiana Humanities, Inc.  as part of its Novel Indiana program.  It will be of interest to many Heart of the River sympaticos because it provides a story of community response to a proposal for a new dam which would require significant land acquisition via eminent domain.  From the back cover: “In the rolling hills of southern Indiana, an elderly couple copes with the fear that their riverbottom farm – the only home they have ever known – will be taken from them through an act of eminent domain. The river flowing through their land, the current the old man has fished nearly every day of his life, may be dammed to form a reservoir. … This beautiful and heartfelt novel examines what it means to love a place and a family, and the sometimes staggering cost of that affection.”

One portion (in Chapter 29) describes the public meeting convened by the Army Corps of Engineers is particularly poignant:

“Someone asked about the price offered to landowners and got a long answer about market value and fluctuating worth.  Another asked about the timetable and Dunkirk (the ACE’s Project Manager) replied: “The whole process – the building of the structure, the preparation of the land, all the various procedures and so forth — takes years.  But we are prepared to move on this right away. We expect to be begin contacting landowners to notify them of their offers to purchase next week.”

Again the room lit up with voices.  “Next week!” someone yelled.

Dunkirk said nothing.  He stood there, as still as a statue of as great man, one erected in a town or square.  A founding father perhaps.  “Within one year, all the necessary property will be in the hands of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers,” he said finally.

The crowd was explosive now—some yelling at the stage, others talking to those around them….

“Ladies and gentlemen, please”, he said.  “On behalf of the United States of America, I ask you to trust the Army Corps of Engineers to do their job for the betterment of the community…”

But Frank was already walking out, Ethel behind him.  He hadn’t joined no goddamn army.


Siipiiwi by poet Kevin McKelvey

This weekend the annual Miami powwow is assembling in Columbia City.  Below is

Hoosier poet Kevin McKelvey’s delightful reflection on untouched rivers.


—the Miami Indian word for river

River, río, riparian—who first spoke “Ri”
at a large flowing expanse of water
and understood the response?
In vulgar Latin or Old French,
how did water say water?
how did eddy say eddy?
Every Gaul and Roman uttered “Ri”
as fields creeped closer to banks
and trees disappeared.

The Miami knew untouched rivers,
the Waa-paah-siki, the Bright White River,
not this silted, polluted flow.
They knew the Kingfisher’s call,
the heron’s spearing bill,
the trolling pike and muskellunge
in the clear water,
the limestone bottoms’ gurgle,
and they knew the river water lapped against
rooted and tangled banks, shaded—siipiiwi.

Herald Bulletin creates an environmental news beat

Scott Underwood column: THB develops environmental reporting beat

  • By Scott Underwood | The Herald Bulletin
  • Jul 11, 2016

Agricultural practices. Air pollution. Invasive species. Land use. Recycling. Water quality. Wind farms.

Our lives and the world around us are constantly changing as issues affecting the environment evolve. To address these concerns, The Herald Bulletin is devoting more resources to environmental reporting.

A few months ago, we began publishing a weekly column, “On Nature,” written by founders of the Heart of the River Coalition. These columns, published Mondays, seek to inform the community about the natural world around us. (Look for Carol Emmert’s “On Nature” column in today’s newspaper and at heraldbulletin.com.)

To push our reporting significantly forward, we’ve created a beat to cover the environment. Staff reporter Christopher Stephens has been assigned to that beat. Look for his article about wind farm rezoning in The Herald Bulletin this coming weekend and more reporting from him on environmental topics as summer marches toward fall.

Our reporting on the environment is part of an effort by the 13 Hoosier newspapers in our company, Community Newspaper Holdings Inc. (CNHI), to develop beats that address readers’ common interests and concerns across Indiana.

The two other beats are health care and education. While The Herald Bulletin takes the lead in environmental reporting, the Kokomo Tribune will spearhead the statewide health care beat and the Terre Haute Tribune-Star will take on statewide education reporting. These articles, coming in a weekly rotation, will be part of a continuing “Indiana In-Depth” reporting effort.

In addition to the environment beat, Stephens also covers the business beat and towns in the (roughly) southern Madison County area, including Edgewood, Ingalls, Lapel, Markleville and Pendleton.

Here’s a rundown of our other reporters’ beats, some of which have changed recently:

• Rebecca Bibbs has moved to the local education beat and will also cover cities and towns in the (roughly) northern Madison County area, including Alexandria, Chesterfield, Daleville, Elwood, Frankton and Summitville.

• Ken de la Bastide reports on Anderson city and Madison County government and is our lead reporter on politics and news out of state and federal government.

• Kelly Dickey reports on features, entertainment and lifestyles topics.

• Devan Filchak covers health and social issues, and is our lead reporter on police, fire and emergency response news most mornings.

• Stu Hirsch has moved to the public safety beat, meaning he’s our lead reporter on courts, as well as police, fire and emergency response news most afternoons and evenings.

All of our reporters focus on their beats, developing articles that lend insight into trends and issues. But each is also a general assignment reporter; they tackle the news of the day and routinely fill in for reporters on other beats.

If you have story ideas for any of our beats, don’t hesitate to contact our reporters. All of their email addresses are first name.last name@heraldbulletin.com. Or you can send your story ideas to me, whether they relate to the environment or any other subject matter of local concern.

Editor Scott Underwood’s column appears Mondays. Like him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter @THBeditor. Contact him at scott.underwood@heraldbulletin.com or 640-4845.

On Nature column: Enjoy the songs and beauty of White River warblers

On Nature column: Enjoy the songs and beauty of White River warblers

  • By Kevin Tungesvick | For The Herald Bulletin
  • May 2, 2016

Each year, the spring migration of songbirds to their summer breeding range reaches a peak when over 30 species of warblers pass through Indiana in early to mid-May.

Most North American warblers are neo-tropical migrants, wintering in the tropics of Central and South America and returning to North America each summer to breed. Their colorful plumage and active foraging habits make this group a favorite among birders.

While many species continue their migration north to Canada’s extensive boreal forests, over a dozen species breed in Indiana. Three of these local breeders may be heard and observed in the woodlands bordering White River. These three species, the northern parula, the yellow-throated warbler, and the Louisiana waterthrush arrive earlier than the migratory peak, typically reaching east central Indiana in the first three weeks of April.

The northern parula is a small colorful warbler that typically forages high in the canopy, preferring sycamore trees in our area. The male has bluish-gray wings and tail feathers with a yellow throat and breast interrupted by a black and a chestnut band. The female has only a hint of the darker breast bands. Both sexes have white wing bars, a yellow-green patch on their back and a white belly. The song of the northern parula consists of an ascending series of buzzy notes that drops to an abrupt ending note.

The yellow-throated warbler is also typically found in sycamores along White River. It has a bluish-gray back, white wing bars and a yellow throat but lacks the breast bands of the northern parula. The bold black and white facial pattern and the black streaks on the sides of the breast further differentiate this species from the previous one. This species has a distinctive foraging habit of creeping along large tree limbs, not unlike the white-breasted nuthatches that frequent our bird feeders. Their song consists of a series of similar slurred notes that descend and weaken toward the end.

The distinctive Louisiana waterthrush is found along clear wooded streams. They may be easily found along the spring-fed streams in the deep ravines at Mounds State Park. Their plumage is very thrush-like with a brown back and wings and a spotted white breast. Unlike our true thrushes, there is a prominent white line above the eye. The Louisiana waterthrush forages on the ground along streams, walking with a distinctive gait that includes incessant tail-bobbing. It feeds on aquatic invertebrates plucked from the shallow water. This foraging habit makes it easier to observe than the other two species. Its song starts with slurred notes resembling that of the yellow-throated warbler, but rather than weakening, it ends in an emphatic jumble of notes. All three of these species may be heard singing in their breeding territories from late April through July.


Herald Bulletin’s “On Nature” column: Making the rounds for a Circle Mound equinox sunrise

By Eliot Reed | For The Herald Bulletin

On Nature: Making the rounds for a Circle Mound equinox sunrise

Peeking over the eastern horizon, the sun’s light pierces a stand of trees in the distance.

As the sun climbs higher in the morning sky, the trees that tower over Circle Mound catch the light and glow golden and green. With the sun slowly rising higher, the bowing trees and gateway of Circle Mound frame in the sun. For more than 2,000 years the sun has risen in perfect alignment, marking the end of one season and the beginning of another.

For the past four years, I have visited Circle Mound on the spring and fall equinox to see this phenomenon for myself. As a landscape photographer I have traveled all over the country taking photographs of wild and vast landscapes — volcanoes and glaciers, salt flats and dunes — but it was a trip to Mesa Verde National Park in southwestern Colorado where my outlook on landscape photography changed.

Circle Mound is different from most of the other earthworks found in Mounds Park — for one thing, it’s not a circle at all. While it does have rounded corners, Circle Mound is actually rectangular in shape, stretching 285 feet in length and 225 feet across. Surrounded by a 30-foot wide ditch, the central platform of the structure measures 148 feet long and 72 feet wide. The gateway faces due east and was originally flanked by two smaller mounds that have been greatly reduced in size by plowing, as this area of the park was once cultivated. The western end sits high atop a bluff overlooking the White River.

Circle Mound is the only visible rectangular structure of the three discovered in the park. Earthwork G is buried in the campground area and Earthwork F has been severely damaged by cultivation and the construction of a county road. Very little is known about the activities that occurred at Circle Mound and the other rectangular structures. Most of the archeology done at Mounds State Park has occurred at the circular earthworks – the Great Mound enclosure, Fiddleback, and a few small adjacent structures.

Eliot Reed, an Anderson native, is the owner of Park Place Arts, a custom frame shop and art gallery in Anderson. He is a founding director of Heart of the River Coalition. “On Nature” is published Mondays