Steven Heffley is a member of The Nature Conservancy. Steven graduated from Gallaudet University where his love for trees began. This eventually led him to Pekin, Indiana where he now lives along Honey Run, a tributary to the Blue River. Steven has planted many trees to protect the water leaving his land. He is an avid kayaker who paddles the Blue River on Sundays. Steven wrote the following in response to the question, what does the Blue River mean to you?
I love the Blue River because it is not too big. No barges or motor boats can navigate the river, except near its confluence with the Ohio River. It has nice rapids and riffles for paddlers to enjoy and there are a lot of mussel shells in the Blue River, which show the river’s health.
I love the beautiful, huge trees along the banks that cover the river to keep the water cool. The Blue River has beautiful limestone half canyons and cliffs with moss and lot of springs and caves. I always see wildlife when I’m on the river and was so happy when river otters were reintroduced. The river looks like an Appalachian mountain stream with its boulders and big rocks. I haven’t seen a hellbender yet, but I hope to see one someday.
The Blue River needs our help to keep it blue. We can achieve this by stopping soil erosion and by keeping the river scenic for all to appreciate. Planting more trees and plants and keeping livestock out of the stream while also cleaning up litter along the stream bank sounds like a simple task and it is if everyone does their part. I pick up litter from the river while kayaking because the fish and animals cannot do that.
We, the people, do that job. Removing invasive plants, such as garlic mustard and kudzu, keeps the river wild and scenic. Hoosiers are fortunate to have a river so different from most in the state and I cherish the Blue River because of its differences.