Rizer Returns to Coffee Creek Watershed

Akatie-rizernd she's back. Katie Rizer has returned as executive director for the Coffee Creek Watershed Conservancy. "It's like coming home again. I've been back for about two months and am having a wonderful time getting reacquainted with visitors to the Preserve, the board of directors, and the team involved at Coffee Creek Center."

Rizer served as Director of Fun when Coffee Creek Center developer, Lake Erie Land Company (LEL), donated the 151-acre nature preserve in 1999. “We’re excited to have Katie back with the organization,” commented Coffee Creek Watershed Conservancy board of director’s president, Janet Ryan. “Her enthusiasm is contagious and she has a great track record for implementing new, innovative programs. She brought the Hometown Picnic to Chesterton in 1998, worked on our organizations first watershed management plan, and implemented volunteer programs that engaged the greater Duneland community.”

Ryan, long-time member of the Northwest Indiana Steelheaders, a non-profit organization that promotes sport fishing in the Great Lakes, hopes to increase the educational and recreational activities in the Coffee Creek Watershed Preserve. “The Chesterton community loves our park. Hundreds of walkers, jogger, anglers and families visit The Preserve every week. We look forward to offering hands-on, environmental education programs for local school children, offering nature-based family hikes in the preserve, and reintroducing our summer concert series. We will also continue to host the annual 9/11 Tribute in the fall. Katie has a great track record in implementing and supporting these types of projects.”

Rizer, who served as inaugural chairman for the local Christmas In April Program (Now Rebuilding Together * Duneland), looks forward to working with community members in The Preserve and throughout the watershed on a multitude of volunteer initiatives. “ Christmas in April was my first experience in leading a large-scale, all volunteer program. It taught me that anything can be done with a well-equipped, dedicated group of volunteers. I’m excited to get our volunteer program started at Coffee Creek. Our inaugural volunteer program, Lopper and Hoppers, will bring volunteers out to help trim back overgrowth in the 151-acre preserve while hearing fun facts about the amphibians that live in the preserve. Volunteers bring their loppers - we talk about the hoppers. It’s scheduled for July 27th from 9:00 -11:00 a.m. We’ll meet at the Pavilion at Sidewalk Road and Dickinson. Attendees should bring their own loppers and we’ll be prepared to talk about the hoppers!”

We not only own and manage the 151-acre Coffee Creek Watershed Preserve, but also serve as a watershed organization. Part of a watershed organization's mission is to work with stakeholders in understanding and improving the health of a watershed. Rizer stated, "Our stakeholders include our Coffee Creek Center neighbors, as well as residents and business owners within the watershed. I've already had an opportunity to meet with Jennifer Gadzala, the MS4 operator for the town of Chesterton, and members of Save the Dunes to identify ways to protect and improve Coffee Creek, which flows into the Little Calumet River." The Little Calumet River flows into Lake Michigan less than 10 miles west of its confluence with Coffee Creek, near Ogden Dunes. Save the Dunes is leading the effort to clean up the Lake Michigan Watershed.

"I'm excited to be back at the helm at the Coffee Creek Watershed Conservancy. We have a 151-acre playground: high floristic quality, abundant wildlife, and 5 miles of trails for walking, jogging, and running. Our Pavilion is available for family gatherings, The Chesterton Amphitheater will continue to be the most beautiful place to host an outdoor wedding ceremony, and we will continue to make our trails available to non-profit organizations who wish to hold 5K races as fundraising events."

The Coffee Creek Watershed Conservancy is a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to Identifying, maintaining, and enhancing the remnant biodiversity of the Coffee Creek watershed while providing educational and recreational experiences for all. For information on The Preserve and the Coffee Creek Watershed Conservancy, contact Executive Director, Katie Rizer at 219-926-1842.