2013 emmy nominee
2013 cinematography awardpittsburgh film awardriver bend film award
green lens film awardcincinnati film awardamerican conservation film award
Kankakee River Documentary Release Completed
November 1, 2012


General Email

Patty Wisniewski, Executive Producer/Camera. Phone 219-508-7364 Email

Jeff Manes, Producer/Writer. Phone: 219-775-3038 Email

Brian Kallies, Producer/Camera/Editor. Phone: 773-610-5819 Email

Tom Desch, Producer/Camera/Editor. Phone: 773-837-1915 Email

Valparaiso, IN – Everglades of the North: The Story of the Grand Kankakee Marsh, a one-hour television documentary, reveals the diverse ecology, illustrates the astonishing history, and explores the controversial saga of the Grand Kankakee Marsh in how people have used and perceived this wetland for more than 10,000 years.

Less than a century ago, there was an area in the Midwest that resembled the swamplands of Florida’s Everglades. Sometimes called the "Everglades of the North”, The Grand Kankakee Marsh once saturated nearly a million acres in Northern Indiana and a portion of Illinois.

The grand marsh was home to some of the highest concentrations of wildlife on the planet, with waterfowl so numerous they literally "blackened the sky.” Louis the XIV claimed this land as part of "New France.” The marsh was called Chicago’s food pantry. Industrialists made their fortunes from its seemingly endless natural resources.

Many sought the riches of the marsh, but at a costly price. Today less than 5% of the Grand Kankakee Marsh has survived man’s advances, but with a better understanding of the important role wetlands play in the environment, there is a renewed effort to restore part of what was lost.

Shooting for the documentary began three years ago and is now in post-production with an expected release date later this year.

"This has been an incredible experience,” said producer Pat Wisniewski, founder of For Goodness Sakes Productions in Valparaiso, "We’ve met scores of wonderful people who love the Kankakee river and its fabled marsh, and wanted to share their stories with us.”

Wisniewski teamed up with friend and syndicated columnist Jeff Manes of Lowell, who grew up on the Kankakee River and approached her about creating a story about the marsh. "It didn’t take long for us to realize we needed to make this documentary,” he said. "We can bring this story to life.”

"It’s a missing piece of American ecology,” said Cedar Lake native Brian Kallies who has produced, shot and edited programs for PBS, WGN and the Showtime cable network. "The Story of the Grand Kankakee Marsh is a vital slice of Midwestern history,” said the former Lakeshore Public Television producer and production manager.

"I grew up fishing with my dad on the Illinois side of the Kankakee River” said producer Tom Desch, a native of Herscher, IL, who edited numerous shows for PBS, the Biography Channel and Animal Planet. "So, when I heard about the project, I wanted to be a part of bringing it to life”, he added.

Major funding for this program has been provided by: Lake Heritage Parks Foundation Efroymson Family Fund, a CICF Fund South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority Legacy Foundation Dean and Barbara White Foundation Albert’s Jewelers Dorene and Jerry Hammes Newton County Community Foundation Jasper Foundation, Inc. Waterfowl U.S.A. Izaak Walton League of America South Shore Arts Indiana Arts Commission National Endowment for the Arts Jimmy F. New Foundation The Nature Conservancy

Additional funding sources will be listed on the documentary website when it becomes available.

View the trailer.