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City of Bloomington, Indiana

45.98 acres at 3401 W. Wapehani Rd. off Weimer Road on the southwest side of Bloomington

Parking: Gravel parking lot, holds about 10 cars

Biking TrailsTrail map showing approximately five miles of dirt trails (PDF 414.23 KB)

Report a problem at Wapehani Mountain Bike Park

History

The City leased the Weimer Lake grounds to the White River Council, Boy Scouts of America on August 31, 1954. Mutual release on termination of the lease was recorded on July 10, 1980. It is believed that Utilities took over the property at that time, but there was no written documentation. Wapehani Mountain Bike Park was the first mountain bike park in the state of Indiana, and was opened in 1990.

Weimer Lake Dam Project

Historical Background

Weimer Lake (also referred to as “Lake Wapehani”) at Wapehani Mountain Bike Park was formed in 1909 when a dam was constructed on the West Fork of Clear Creek in order to form a small water supply reservoir. Originally a City of Bloomington Utilities resource, it was given over to the management of the City of Bloomington Parks and Recreation Department after Lake Lemon and Lake Monroe were created.

The White River Council of the Boy Scouts of America leased what was then known as “Camp Wapehani” from the city in 1954. The BSA returned the Camp Wapehani property to the city in 1980, when the newly constructed State Road 37 cut the property in half. The Wapehani Mountain Bike Park (49.58 acres) opened as Indiana’s first mountain bike park in 1990. There are more than five miles of dirt mountain bike trails at the park.

Project Objective

Remove the Weimer Dam, restore the natural stream channel, and develop a wetland of native and pollinator-friendly trees and plants in the former lake bed.

Why the Project is Necessary

An Indiana Department of Natural Resources inspection and subsequent report issued in 2015 concluded there were significant deficiencies to the Weimer Dam and recommended the dam either be decommissioned or reconstructed to a safe condition by 2017.

The City of Bloomington Utilities determined the Weimer Dam is no longer needed for the service of the Utility, and, because of liability concerns, a responsible course of action would be to proceed with removing the dam.

KCI Technologies is the design engineer (consultant) for the project.

Project Scope

The dam will be removed first, followed by the planting of more than 500 different species of native trees, shrubs and other vegetation.

The dam removal portion of the project is expected to take an estimated 3-6 months to complete, during which time the Wapehani Mountain Bike Park will be closed to the public due to the presence of heavy equipment used in the dam removal process.

Project Timeline

  • Bid Solicitation - Oct. 19, 2017
  • Bid Opening - Nov. 13, 2017 at 5 p..m.
  • Award of Contract to Responsible Bidder - Nov. 27 at Utilities Service Board meeting
  • Notice to Proceed - Dec. 4, 2017
  • Completion - December 2018

Project Outcome

Action decided upon by the City of Bloomington Utilities is an accountable response to the conclusion reached by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources with respect to the Weimer Dam.

There is an ongoing, nationwide trend to remove dams from free-flowing creeks and rivers, especially where the costs – including environmental, safety, and socio-cultural impacts – outweigh the benefits – including hydropower, flood control, irrigation, or recreation – or where the dam no longer serves any useful purpose.

The Wapehani Mountain Bike Park will be temporarily closed for three to six months for safety while large equipment is present in the park to facilitate dam removal. The Weimer Lake dam will be removed slowly, in stages, to prevent flooding downstream. Ultimately, a V-shaped notch in the dam will allow the lake to drain over time, and sediment control measures will prevent the movement of mud and debris downstream. The slow draining of the lake will allow fish currently in the lake to move downstream with the flow Clear Creek.

Bloomington Parks and Recreation, working with Eco Logic LLC, will restore the lake bed to a wetland. More than 500 native trees, shrubs, and plants will be installed in the former lake bed as the flow of Clear Creek returns to its original channel. Native plants will provide important pollinator and wildlife habitat, filter and slow the flow of water to improve water quality, and provide an attractive landscape for park visitors. Staff will plant a mix of seeds and started plants, and are optimistic that wet-tolerant hardwoods will naturally seed themselves in the former lake bed as well.

According to native plant experts from Eco Logic, the moisture in the former lake bed may allow invasive plant species to take root before native species are able to become established. For that reason, Bloomington Parks and Recreation and Eco Logic are taking an “early detection/rapid response” strategy to managing invasive plant species as the lake drains. Reed canary grass and poison hemlock are particular species of concern, and staff will be watching and immediately taking control measures if these species are found.

Herbaceous plants like sedges, grasses, and wildflowers should be well established in the former Weimer Lake bed in three years.

Mountain bike trails at Wapehani Mountain Park will remain open to the public (following the temporary closure for dam removal) and available for cycling and hiking, bird and wildlife watching, nature study, and other types of passive recreation. The property is especially noted for its excellent display of spring ephemerals.

For more information about the Weimer Dam removal project, contact Phil Peden, Utilities Engineer, City of Bloomington Utilities Department, at 812.349.3634 or pedenp@bloomington.in.gov. For more information about Wapehani Mountain Bike Park, contact Steve Cotter, Natural Resources Manager, City of Bloomington Parks and Recreation Department, 812.349.3736.