The Proposed Grand Kankakee Marsh National Wildlife Refuge

Update!  Congressman Buyer's Amendment halts refuge funding - Ignores public opinion!

Thanks to everyone for contacting the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service with your comments. The US F&WS reports that the comments were overwhelmingly in favor of the refuge. Is the battle won? NO!

Congressman Buyer of Indiana has attached an Amendment to an Appropriations Bill. This rider will prevent any funding of the Refuge. 88% of the comments to the Fish and Wildlfe Service FAVORED THE REFUGE!  Buyer's amendment is an outrage.

Please urge the President to VETO the Department of the Interior's Appropriation Bill UNLESS all anti-environmental amendments are removed.   Click HERE and ask the President to VETO! 

If you are unfamiliar with the Proposed refuge, please read on...

    30,000 ACRES OF NEW PUBLIC LAND FOR WILDLIFE! Think About it! 30,000 acres for hunting and fishing, for camping and canoeing, or just communing with nature. Doesn't that sound GREAT? But it's not a done deal. It is a proposal right now and will not happen unless the public speaks up and says "YES, this is a good idea and we should do it."

    Opponents of the refuge are organized. The vast majority of the land being studied for the refuge is situated in VERY conservative political districts. Traditionally, political conservatives do not like putting land aside for wildlife. If you want all this new public land, land aquired from willing sellers, land that is close to home, managed for wildlife and open recreation, please write a letter, or e-mail today!

    The Refuge is a federal project, so write your Federal officials and tell them to support the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposal for the Grand Kankakee Marsh National Wildlife Refuge.

    And please dont forget to...



  • The History
  • The Proposed Refuge
  • Contact your Representative
  • Contact U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  • Become a IGKMRP Partner


The greatness of the marsh that once covered a large part of northwest Indiana is well documented. The marsh was one of the largest freshwater wetland complexes in the U.S., encompassing 500,000 acres in eight counties.

Wetlands and prairie habitats were intertwined with the Kankakee River as it meandered it's way from South Bend to the Illinois state line taking a 240 mile course to cover the 75 mile distance. The meager fall of only five inches per mile combined with the numerous bends created a giant wet prairie environment. Wildlife and plant life thrived, as did the activities that these resources supported.


This truly was the Grand Marsh.





The Grand Marsh supported a local economy that was built around water fowling and fur trade. With waterfowl in abundance, sportsmen came from all over the world to hunt. There are many accounts on record of the great bounty harvested from the Marsh, with stories about barrels of frog legs and railroad cars of wild game destined for the Chicago markets.

Change in the Marsh came with development. As human populations grew, so did the need for land. The fertile soils of the river bottom provided some of the finest ground for growing crops. A MAMMOTH EFFORT to drain the area by channelizing the river transformed the Grand Marsh from a great producer of wild things into an impressive producer of grain. Where once a local economy was supported by those that employed the Grand Marsh for a rich bounty of fish and game, a thriving farming community emerged. As wildlife habitat was replaced by agriculture, the wildlife was displaced.

Justified by the needs of man, the Grand Marsh lost its personality as it was divided and drained over the years. With only fragments of the great ecosystem left for our generation to ponder and experience, the potential for loss of the remaining vestiges of the former wetland expanse proved to be too much for some to face. An effort was launched to search out support for a project that would enable small areas of the Grand Marsh to be restored.




JUNE 15,1997


The U.S Fish and Wildlife Service is evaluating the feasibility of establishing a new national wildlife refuge in northwestern Indiana and northeastern Illinois. The purpose of the refuge would be to facilitate the restoration and preservation of approximately 30,000 acres of fish and wildlife habitat within the 3.3 million-acre watershed of the Kankakee River.


Using a landscape-scale approach and involving multiple Federal, State, local, and private partners, the refuge would be developed to: (1) preserve, restore, and enhance all animals and plants that are endangered or threatened with becoming endangered; (2) restore and preserve a natural diversity and abundance of flora and fauna; (3) perpetuate the migratory bird resource; and (4) provide the public with high quality wildlife-dependent public use and environmental education opportunities.


Partners such as The Nature Conservancy, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, the Natural Resource Conservation Service, and others, along with the Service, would seek voluntary partnerships with landowners to restore and preserve approximately 100,000 acres of bottomland hardwood forests, prairies and oak savannas, watershed wetland, and riparian woodland corridors. Of this total, the Service would restore and preserve roughly 30,00 acres.


The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service invites your participation in the development of this refuge proposal. YOUR PARTICIPATION MATTERS. We would like to hear your thoughts and ideas on how we can best develop this refuge proposal for the benefit of the American people.



Contact the Service Today:
Dave Hudak, Project Manager
E-Mail Dave Now!
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
620 South Walker Street
Bloomington, Indiana 47403-2121
or call us at (812) 334-4261

Not sure who your Representative is? Click Here
Sample Letter!
Senator Richard Lugar
Senator Dan Coats
Congressman Steve Buyer
Congressman Peter Visclosky
Congressman Tim Roemer
Senator Richard Durbin
Senator Carol Moseley Braun
Congressman Tom Ewing
Congressman Jerry Weller
And be sure to check out the Grand Kankakee National Wildlife Refuge Index at the Hoosier Environmental Council site....
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