Lake Free­man News

USFWS is look­ing to des­ig­nate many areas in the US as Crit­i­cal Habi­tat” in unlaw­ful pow­er grab.

Looks like the US Fish and Wildlife Ser­vice is look­ing to expand its author­i­ty over some U.S. and Indi­ana rivers includ­ing the Tippeca­noe. Todd Roki­ta, now Attor­ney Gen­er­al of Indi­ana and 17 oth­er Attor­ney’s Gen­er­al are say­ing it’s an unlaw­ful pow­er grab. We need com­mon­sense poli­cies that con­serve both wildlife species and con­sti­tu­tion­al gov­ern­ment,” Attor­ney Gen­er­al Roki­ta said. We can pro­tect jobs, the econ­o­my and wildlife all at the same time.”

The pro­posed rules would enable the Fish and Wildlife Ser­vice to des­ig­nate land parcels as indis­pens­able habi­tat for endan­gered species — even if no such species inhab­it the parcels.

We all want to save endan­gered wildlife,” Attor­ney Gen­er­al Roki­ta said. And we all want to pre­serve the crit­i­cal habi­tat where they live. As it turns out, these new rules don’t pro­tect wildlife — and they lit­er­al­ly vio­late the Endan­gered Species Act.”

In a let­ter, Attor­ney Gen­er­al Roki­ta and oth­er state attor­neys gen­er­al press fed­er­al offi­cials to with­draw their ill-advised plans which will poten­tial­ly put local busi­ness­es in peril.

We are tak­ing action because these pro­posed new rules rep­re­sent a pow­er grab,” Attor­ney Gen­er­al Roki­ta said. These new rules infringe on Indiana’s con­sti­tu­tion­al author­i­ty over our own nat­ur­al resources and fail to pro­vide addi­tion­al mean­ing­ful pro­tec­tion to endan­gered wildlife species.”

Attor­ney Gen­er­al Roki­ta has a long his­to­ry of defend­ing Hoosiers and the Indi­ana econ­o­my against fed­er­al over­reach in mat­ters involv­ing habi­tat and wildlife.

If these reg­u­la­tions were to go into effect, the busi­ness­es and econ­o­my of places like the Twin Lakes would be in greater dan­ger,” Attor­ney Gen­er­al Roki­ta said. Look what the cur­rent reg­u­la­tions have done to con­tribute to dra­con­ian actions that have ruined the local econ­o­my dur­ing some years.”

When he served in Con­gress, Attor­ney Gen­er­al Roki­ta fought fed­er­al poli­cies that forced the drain­ing of Lake Free­man and Lake Shafer in north­west­ern Indi­ana as part of U.S. Fish and Wildlife efforts to pro­tect endan­gered mus­sels in Tippeca­noe Riv­er. Such fed­er­al man­dates wreaked hav­oc on the sea­son­al economies of Mon­ti­cel­lo and sur­round­ing communities.

We need com­mon­sense poli­cies that con­serve both wildlife species and con­sti­tu­tion­al gov­ern­ment,” Attor­ney Gen­er­al Roki­ta said. We can pro­tect jobs, the econ­o­my and wildlife all at the same time.”

It’s nice to see our local, state and fed­er­al politi­cians awake and angry. A copy of the let­ter is attached to read and download. 

Also in break­ing news, the Indy Star report­ed yet anoth­er fresh­wa­ter mus­sel is being pro­posed for addi­tion to the fed­er­al endan­gered species list. The Sala­man­der Mus­sel which is basi­cal­ly starts off as a par­a­site! Can’t make this stuff up, amazing.

Much more to come.

Here is access to the letter—


2023 08 21 Alabama et al Comment Letter
Click to access the letter in the story

Con­gress­man Baird vows to help Lake Freeman

Con­gress­man Jim Baird (4th Dis­trict Indi­ana) was re-elect­ed to a sec­ond term. All of us on Lake Free­man could not be hap­pi­er. He has been a stout advo­cate for the Lake. In his promise to con­stituents, he called the Lake Free­man sit­u­a­tion a Cat­a­stro­phe”. He also vowed to make sure the low­er­ing and its’ affects nev­er hap­pens again. A big thank you to Con­gress­man Baird!

Jim Baird Lake Freeman
Thank you Congressman Baird. You know how important Lake Freeman is to businesses, residents, fish and yes, even mussels!

What a crazy sum­mer. Let’s hope com­mon sense pre­vails and we find a bal­anced solu­tion for Lake Freeman.

We appre­ci­ate Sen­a­tor Mike Braun and all of our elect­ed offi­cials efforts to help mit­i­gate this insane water release man­date. So here we are in Mid-Octo­ber, the Fed­er­al Court of Appeals just heard the SFLECC case. Let’s keep our fin­gers crossed. We had a great ral­ly on Octo­ber 3rd. Over 250 peo­ple showed up, there were some great signs and a lot of pas­sion­ate speech­es. BUT… this is far from over. News Nation just did a sto­ry fea­tur­ing the man respon­si­ble— Scott Pruitt. He is a Field Super­vi­sor for The US Fish and Wildlife Ser­vice. Watch the sto­ry. Why did he not refer to the man­dat­ed a min­i­mum of 500 cfs of water to be released from the Oak­dale Dam AT ALL TIMES? Not a word. Instead the sto­ry was framed as if the Lakes are respon­si­ble for keep­ing water from the low­er Tippy. 

Here is a FACT: Lake Free­man mus­sel deaths now stand at over 221,200 due to USFWS draw down!!!

Indiana Senator Mike Braun
Senator Mike Braun speaks to an endangered species committee about the Lake Freeman situation.

Sports­man Inn Sea­wall Col­laps­es Lake Freeman

It’s get­ting real now. George Wade, own­er of Sports­man Inn, speaks on WLFI18 about the impact of the USFWS water draw down man­date. The only ques­tion is… Where does he send the $10,000 bill? Let’s all help George swing by The Sports­man Inn and any a meal!


SFLECC Meet­ing pro­vid­ed infor­ma­tion about Lake Free­man levels.


The annu­al SFLECC meet­ing was held at City Park. The meet­ing cov­ered Lake Free­man water lev­els, admin­is­tra­tion updates and elec­tion of new Board mem­bers, but the top­ic most peo­ple were inter­est­ed in was the lake lev­el sit­u­a­tion on Lake Freeman. 


About 40 peo­ple were in atten­dance to hear Lake Lev­els Com­mit­tee Chair John Kop­ple­mann give an update. It seems in the short term all we can do is pray for rain. On Octo­ber 5th there is a Court hear­ing. SFLECC is chal­leng­ing the sci­ence orig­i­nal­ly used to set the hydra­tion flow for the Low­er Tip­py­ca­noe Riv­er. Don’t hold your breathe for a ver­dict. Kop­ple­mann told the audi­ence there quite pos­si­bly could be a con­tin­u­ance. He and the rest of SFLECC are doing all they can to find a log­i­cal res­o­lu­tion. The US Fish and Wildlife Ser­vice issued a man­date in 2012 to main­tain a min­i­mum flow from the Oak­dale Dam of 500 cfs to main­tain hydra­tion for the endan­gered mus­sels that inhab­it the low­er Tip­py­ca­noe riv­er. Keep your fin­gers crossed for com­pro­mise. Until then do a rain dance.

John Koppleman Sflecc
John Kopplemann speaks to concerned residents about Lake Freeman water levels

What’s Hap­pen­ing with the Lake Free­man Water Levels?

SFLECC, NIP­SCO, FERC & USFWS: Lake Free­man Water lev­el Policies

In 2012 NIP­SCO peti­tioned the Fed­er­al Ener­gy Reg­u­la­to­ry Com­mis­sion (FERC) to amend its license. Cur­rent­ly the license requires NIP­SCO to not let lake lev­els fall more than three inch­es. Last year when The Fish and Wildlife Ser­vice man­dat­ed a high­er min­i­mum water release from Oak­dale Dam, NIP­SCO was actu­al­ly vio­lat­ing their agree­ment. If approved, the new license would allow for up to a 12 foot drop in water lev­els! Which is basi­cal­ly back to the orig­i­nal riv­er bed. In, Feb­ru­ary, SFLECC encour­aged every­one to write a let­ter to FERC to voice con­cern and decline the request. For links and more infor­ma­tion click here. SFLECC is work­ing on behalf of all of us. They need fund­ing to con­tin­ue the con­ver­sa­tion, so please make a dona­tion at sflecc​.com. As soon as we hear any news we’ll post.

The low­er Tippeca­noe Riv­er is home to over twen­ty-five species of clams, mus­sels and mol­lusks. Five of which are on the US Fish and Wildlife Services’s list of endan­gered species. They’re found in the por­tion of the Tippeca­noe Riv­er below Oak­dale Dam south to the Wabash Riv­er. The list includes the club­shell, fan­shell, rayed been, sheep­nose and snuff­box. The rab­bits­foot, a can­di­date for fed­er­al list­ing is also found here, along with sev­er­al state-list­ed mus­sel species.

By order of the USFWS, NIP­SCO, who owns and oper­ates the Oak­dale dam, must release a min­i­mum amount of water to keep the low­er Tip­py ade­quate­ly hydrat­ed. There are two water flow mon­i­tors to give accu­rate infor­ma­tion. One is locat­ed North in Wina­mac and the oth­er just south of the Oak­dale Dam. What­ev­er the rate is at the Wina­mac gauge 1.9x that amount must be released from the Oak­dale Dam. This is done in times of dry con­di­tions when flow rates dip below 500 cubic feet a sec­ond at Winamac. 

The Clubshell Clam

Snacks at Susan’s

When your boat is thirsty for gas, make sure you sat­is­fy your hunger pangs too. Susan’s Free­man Bay is the place to fuel up for every­one. Now her snack list is post­ed on the gas pumps. Susan also has a brochure so you can be pre­pared when you dock.She has about any­thing you could pos­si­bly want. And lots of cool mer­chan­dise inside, but you can’t go in right now so ask. The gals who work the dock are work­ing their tails off, give a tip!

Sfb Dockside Menu
What is more fun than a snack on the boat?

A Nos­tal­gic Video From Indi­ana Beach

Indiana Beach at Shafer lake 1962
A nice look back at Indi­ana Beach

Saw this on You Tube and thought I’d share. Wel­come back Indi­ana Beach!.


Lake Free­man Wel­comes the Beau­ti­ful White Pelican

White Pelicans
The White Pelican is one of the interesting birds you can now spot on Lake Freeman

Beau­ti­ful White Pel­i­cans have found Lake Free­man to be a nice rest­ing spot from their win­ter breed­ing grounds in Min­neso­ta. I guess Mon­ti­cel­lo Indi­ana is now on their migra­to­ry route. The sto­ry above indi­cates Mis­souri is their main route. It seems that Feb­ru­ary and March are now prime bird watch­ing months on the Lake. Bald Eagles, Swans, Sand Cranes, Blue Her­rin and now White Pel­i­cans! Bust out your binocular’s and start scan­ning the waters. We are tru­ly blessed to share our lake with these incred­i­ble creatures. 

Peo­ple like boat rides and fishing

In our recent sur­vey, over 200 peo­ple respond­ed to what they real­ly enjoy on Lake Free­man. Over­whelm­ing­ly it is boat rides fol­lowed by fish­ing. The sur­pris­ing thing to us was how low sit­ting around a bon fire was. But hey, we get it, there are so many beau­ti­ful homes to look at. Fish­ing was sec­ond and that’s no sur­prise. The stock­ing pro­gram has proven to be a suc­cess. Crap­pies, Sil­vers, Wall­eye are all being pulled out big and healthy. There is anoth­er sur­vey cur­rent­ly on our home page, please offer your opinion.

A Touch­ing Video A Good Run”

Here is an incred­i­bly touch­ing show that recaps one mans mem­o­ries and gets to the heart of the spe­cial expe­ri­ence that is boat­ing. We’ve all had many of these moments on Lake Free­man. It was pro­duced and post­ed cour­tesy of Dis­cov­er Boat­ing. Enjoy!

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Lake Freeman Facts

Did you know?

Over 221,000 mussels have died on Lake Freeman since August of 2020 due to the USFWS water release mandate.