Passing of the guide paddle

After 21 years serving as the sole staff person for Friends of the White River, the organization’s executive director is retiring. Kevin Hardie has been involved with the nonprofit since its inception in 1985, first as a founding member and then as an officer on its board of directors. His staff position, for what had been up to then an all-volunteer organization, was created in 2000 after a controversial fish kill episode which made national news. That chemical discharge from a manufacturing plant in Anderson was blamed for killing as many as five million fish. Friends played a vital role in making sure that the polluter was eventually held accountable for paying to restore the river’s habitat.

Since then, Hardie has helped with the establishment, funding, and ongoing expansion of the tremendously successful River School program, which has taken many hundreds of students as well as elected officials, policy leaders and other community leaders on educational river trips throughout Central Indiana. He has also helped coordinate the award-winning Annual Downtown White River Cleanup, which has involved more than 6,000 volunteers who have collected more than 2,000,000 pounds of trash, tires, and illegally dumped debris from the banks of the White River over the course of more than 30 years.

He has served on many planning and advisory boards, including the White River Citizens Advisory Council, the DNR Trails Advisory Board and the White River Vision Plan Stakeholder Committee. “Kevin retires leaving the Friends in a strong position to continue with its present projects and undertake additional efforts to enhance the waterway,” noted Adam Barnes, the president of its board of directors.

Please congratulate Kevin on all he has accomplished at!

If you would like to make a donation to FOWR in honor of Kevin’s 21 years of service, you can do so here.

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cleanup volunteers
FOWR Board Member John Hazlett (left), incoming ED Scott Salmon (center), and retiring ED Kevin Hardie (right) coordinate volunteers at the 2021 Downtown Cleanup. Photo by John Weaver, FOWR member and cleanup volunteer.

The FOWR Board of Directors has named Scott Salmon to take Kevin’s place as the organization’s executive director. Scott began volunteering with Friends in 2008 as a raft guide through the River School program, and has worked several downtown cleanups and many float trips since moving to Indianapolis in 2012.

He holds a M.P.A. from the O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs and a B.S. from Indiana State University. He spent nearly five years with the Indiana Division of Fish and Wildlife managing pollution-caused fish kill response and riparian restoration, conducting environmental risk assessments, and planning aquatic habitat projects such as low-dam removals and streambank restoration.

Scott has held teaching, logistics, and leadership positions with numerous outdoor education organizations over his career, and maintains Wilderness First Responder and PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor certifications. He currently serves as a volunteer board member with the Indiana Chapter of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, and on the Indiana Conservation Alliance Steering Committee.

Scott can be reached at

Friends of the White River relies heavily on your membership and generous donations to conduct our River School and Clean Our Watershed programs, as well as advocate for public policy decisions that improve water quality in and recreational access to White River.

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Invest in the banks of the White River

Help the Friends as we continue to invest in the banks of the White River!

We are asking for your financial support for our ongoing efforts to make the waterway better. With the help of volunteers — people just like you who care about the river — we collected more than 50,000 pounds of trash and illegally dumped debris during the course of this year!

During the spring, summer and fall, more than 200 volunteers worked nearly 600 hours to accomplish that at three targeted river sites near the downtown. And there is still more work to do as we explore strategies to work with the City of Indianapolis and other governmental entities to bring this ongoing abuse to an end.

A tax-deductible donation made now will allow us to continue the work during 2022. Thanks for your ongoing support! it is making a difference for the future of White River and for those who appreciate its potential to be a steadily improving resource!

cleanup volunteers

cleanup volunteers

cleanup volunteers

cleanup volunteers

White River closings

Construction projects in two locations are closing parts of White River. 

The Lake Indy/Riverside boat ramp is closed while Citizens Energy Group creates a rock dam downstream. The dam will raise the pool level upstream for the water supply station that was disabled by the 2018 breach of the Emrichsville Dam below 16th Street.

A carry-in launch from below the construction area will be available, which will double as a portage. Through on-water traffic will not be allowed. Read more about the Riverside Rock Dam project (PDF, 140 KB).

boat ramp on river
The Riverside Park boat ramp is closed.

Likewise, on-river travel will not be possible from Broad Ripple down to Rocky Ripple while workers rebuild the Kessler Boulevard Bridge at Friedman Park. A large weir has been constructed across the width of White River, making passage by recreational users difficult or dangerous, especially during higher flow.

Friends of the White River advocated for signage to be placed at the Indianapolis Arts Center access point to inform recreational users of the downstream river closure. Previous to our actions, the City only planned to place signage at the Meridian Street Bridge, which could have forced recreational users, unaware of the closing, to paddle back upstream to a take out.

warning sign posted at boat launch on river
The Carvel Avenue boat launch is open, but downstream travel is restricted.

Please alter your summer paddling plans accordingly and avoid these portions of the White River. To learn about other paddling options, download our White River Guide mobile app.

To support our ongoing efforts on behalf of recreational users, please consider a donation to Friends of the White River.