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For the last 14 years, Valparaiso University’s Biology Club has been one of the regions’ most effective environmental improvement organizations, recently receiving two federal grants from the Lake Michigan Coastal Program. On March 24, coinciding with National Water Month, the Biology Club will be spending a work day at the Elkhart Conservation Club (ECC) property on Cobus Creek.

While at the ECC, which has seen dramatic improvements on their trout stream, grounds and facilities over the years thanks largely to the Biology Club, students will perform building maintenance, monitor the river (flow, chemistry, stability and habitat), remove any log jams and adjust previous improvements such as bank stabilizers, flow deflectors and trout and macro invertebrate habitats, which may have been disrupted during the winter.

“We’re proud to have more than 30 hard-core river runners with multiple restoration experiences on our team,” said Grayson Davis, professor of biology and leader of the Biology Club. “In our 14-years of river restoration, we’ve completed more than 50 trips, with eight more events planned for the spring and summer.”

The Biology Club was founded in 1933, but did not begin to do river work until 1999. In the last academic year, the club performed 10 river restorations with 119 students and 20 nonstudent residents. All work is done at the direction of Joe Mitchell, CEO of Rivertenders, who plans the projects and obtains the appropriate permits.

In Michigan, the Biology Club has worked on Brandywine Creek, McCoy Creek, Dowagiac River and Dowagiac Creek. While in Indiana, restorations have been completed on Trail Creek, Little Calumet River, Salt Creek, Baugo Creek, Little Kankakee River and Cobus Creek.

The ECC’s grounds include a rustic cabin and a 35,000 trout hatchery responsible for raising more than $1 million worth of brown trout for local rivers at no cost to taxpayers. Ed Evans, hatchery director, says that the current crop of brown trout is healthy and growing rapidly. Recent wildlife sightings at the club include: turkeys, owls, adult and juvenile bald eagles, sandhill cranes, coyotes, deer and foxes.

Visit blogs.valpo.edu/vubioclub to learn more about Biology Club activities. For more information or to request media availability for Grayson Davis or Biology Club members, contact Nicole Niemi at nicole.niemi@valpo.edu.