FSC Celebrates 20 Years

The Friends of Sugar Creek Celebrates 20 Years of Hard Work
Journal Review (4/1/2008)
Article by Matt Williams

Mission statement: to protect, restore, and promote appreciation of Sugar Creek and its watershed.

That’s what the Friends of Sugar Creek has been doing for the past twenty years. The Friends of Sugar Creek was founded by Dean Ford in 1987 and has been an important part of Sugar Creek and its health ever since. The Friends of Sugar Creek is a non-profit organization made up of dedicated volunteers who all want to make sure Sugar Creek and its beauty are around for generations to come. FSC is one of the biggest non-profit environmental organizations in the state and 250 members strong.

The Friends of Sugar Creek has faced many challenges in the past twenty years. Some citizens may recall the numerous threats to sugar creek and its watershed in the past twenty years. Without the exposure and persistent efforts of FSC members these issues may have gone unnoticed.

In 1988, FSC reported concrete being dumped into Sugar Creek, which is now referred to as the Great Wall of Crawfordsville. Over 3,000 tons of unformed concrete measuring 12 feet high and 20 feet wide and 312 feet long is now a scar on one of Sugar Creek’s banks. Although the Friends of Sugar Creek reported the incident, the wall still exists. If FSC hadn’t reported the illegal dumping, who knows how big this wall may have gotten. Also in 1988, the FSC announced the fish in sugar creek were contaminated; only to be accused of spreading rumors. FSC reported a half million gallons of untreated hog manure entering Sugar Creek’s watershed and thousands of fish dying. In 1992, FSC was asked to help with a junkyard, which was developed in the Sugar Creek Floodplain west of the Darlington Covered Bridge. These are just a handful of the obstacles that have faced Sugar Creek and FSC in the past twenty years.

Despite these issues that Sugar Creek and the Friends of Sugar Creek have faced in its last 20 years, progress has been made. Since reporting that fish are contaminated in Sugar Creek, FSC has posted 200 fish consumption signs along sugar creek and its watershed warning the consumption of eating too many contaminated fish. We have worked with the Montgomery county soil and water conservation district, where we sponsored the 319 grant. This grant funded a watershed study that helped compile evidence against Pohlman Hog Farm for illegally dumping untreated hog manure into the sugar creek watershed. FSC also put together a storm drain-stenciling project, where Tuttle Middle School kids participated in helping to locate and label city drains that lead straight to the creek. This was all in an effort to help make the public aware that the drains lead to Sugar Creek and hopefully keep harmful contaminants out. Most recently, in the last two years we helped in the efforts of getting the junkyard west of the Darlington Covered Bridge which was in Sugar Creeks flood plain cleaned up.

We were one of the first river groups to partner with IDNR to develop a state-wide program called Hoosier River Watch. We wrote/produced and distributed the “Sugar Creek” video in 1997, which has recently been digitally formatted and is still being distributed. FSC was named the Environmental Organization of the year in 1997 by the Hoosier Environmental Council.

Through creek clean-ups alone the Friends of Sugar Creek and its volunteers have removed an estimated 65 to 75 tons of trash from sugar creek and its watershed. So come help celebrate our 20th year in existence by joining us on the creek and in our mission to protect, restore, and promote an appreciation of Sugar Creek and its watershed.

Be watching for our upcoming annual meeting in April and our annual creek clean up on May 12th. We will also be having a float trip on May 20th to help celebrate our twentieth year. Be sure to check our web site www.friendsofsugarcreek.org for more details of upcoming events and issues that are threatening Sugar Creek and its watershed.