Community rallies to raise Lake Freeman water levels

The Monticello community is demanding action as Lake Freeman levels continue dropping.

Posted: Oct 4, 2020 11:41 PM
Updated: Oct 6, 2020 6:12 PM

MONTICELLO, Ind. (WLFI) -- As water levels are lowering on Lake Freeman, community concerns are getting louder. On Saturday, more than 200 people participated in a "Save Our Lakes Lives" Rally.

"We are going to continue to make noise and we are going to continue to watch what they're doing because this experiment that they're doing needs to change,' said Gary Baldwin, organizer of the "Save Our Lakes Lives" Rally.

Lake Freeman boaters are taking their concerns straight to state and local leaders. Those rallying are asking officials to change a federal mandate on NIPSCO gas and electric company. The company provides water for Lake Freeman and surrounding lakes. U.S. government group Fish and Wildlife put a regulation limiting the amount of water NIPSCO can release into Lake Freeman.
This comes in an effort to provide more water for endangered mussels living in a nearby lake.

With water levels now seven feet lower since the mandate took effect, rally organizer Gary Baldwin said silence is no longer an option.

"I started talking to my neighbors, the local businesses and said hey I want to do this I want to get you guys out here so we can try to communicate and show support for our local people here," said Baldwin.

Saturday's rally is the first of many according to Baldwin. He said each will be focused on state and local leaders hearing their message. They plan to provide information on how people can write letters to officials and help educate them on the lake's water level issue. The next rally will take place after the election once officials take their positions.

"I don't believe it's out of your hands because your voters and your constituents here are being harmed by what Fish and Wildlife have done," said Baldwin.

"We want a compromise, you know, we want a healthy lake, we want to have a very robust economy and we want to save the mussels too," said Bob Dion, a spokesperson for the "Save Our Lakes Lives" movement.

Dion said when lower waters impact boats being able to be on the water, it directly impacts local businesses, the housing market, and the animals living in Lake Freeman.

"It's really been devastating, it's terrible to see. It's paralyzed Lake Freeman," said Dion.

Rally organizers say there will be a federal hearing on the topic tomorrow.

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