KOKOMO, Ind. (AP) — A nonprofit group has won a grant to build a portage trail around a dam that's one of the most dangerous sections of a scenic central Indiana river.
The Kokomo Tribune reports that the $5,000 grant from Northern Indiana Public Service Company will allow The Wildcat Guardians to build a gravel portage path along Wildcat Creek.
The path will allow paddlers to pull their canoes or kayaks out of the river so they can avoid a low-head dam in Kokomo. Such dams can be deadly because people can get trapped in the hydraulic action of the water at the dam's base.
"They can be extremely dangerous because of the current they create," said Rick Parsons, president of Wildcat Guardians. "People who don't paddle the creek a lot don't realize how dangerous a river current can be. Even though it's not too deep there, that's not going to save you when the current pulls you in and swirls you around."
The state Department of Homeland Security says at least 24 people have died in dams in the state since 1997.
Many dams along the river have been removed, but the Kokomo dam is near a water treatment plant. Indiana American Water gets about half of the city's drinking water from the river, Parsons said.
"From what we've been told, they're not likely to have it removed because they depend on the dam to allow them to pull drinking water from the river," he said. "We're all kind of responsible for that, because we're drinking half our water from that source."
The group is speaking with the landowner, Parsons said. The group hopes to get the area where the path will be located deeded to them at no cost, he said.