A concern about tourists’ tubing expeditions’ impact on the Tippecanoe River’s ecology was heard by the Winamac Park Board last week. Resident Mark Copeland told board members that fishing isn’t what it was five or 10 years ago, and he blamed the trash brought by the increase in tourism.
“I think we need to see if you guys can get with the DNR,” he said. “Let’s make this river, through here anyway, let’s make it glass and can free. No glass bottles, no cans, no plastic bottles. I followed those people down the river at times, and I picked up a boatful of trash following them.” Copeland also complained that crowds of tubes and canoes are impeding navigation for larger boats.
In recent years, steps have been taken to reduce the environmental impact of river tourism. Pulaski County launched an “Adopt a River” program and has been working to encourage tourists to keep the river clean. Area residents recently organized a river cleanup day. Earlier last week, Sheriff Jeff Richwine suggested charging some sort of deposit on containers brought onto the river.
At the same time, Winamac officials say one of the major organizers of river tubing excursions has cleaned up its act this year. Cannonball Productions often rents a shelter in the Town Park as part of its trips. Town manager and park board member Brad Zellers reported that nine of those visits took place during the month of August. “There were no problems with them at all this year in the park,” Zellers said. “They’ve cleaned up. It was good.”
An enforcement effort over Labor Day weekend led to the arrest of 27 people on the river, but town officials do not believe it involved a Cannonball excursion.