SPRINGFIELD – Governor George H. Ryan today released $2 million in funding for Illinois River basin restoration, part of his Illinois Rivers 2020 initiative.
The funding will provide a state match for more than $5 million from the Water Resources Development Act.
“This funding will allow completion of a comprehensive plan for Illinois River basin restoration, and allow us to continue work on a number of critically important projects at key locations along the river and in the watershed,” Ryan said. “Our partnership with the federal government, local organizations and private landowners who strongly support restoration of the Illinois River is providing a model for the nation in protecting this vitally important natural resource.”
Illinois Rivers 2020 is Governor Ryan’s 20-year, $2.5 billion initiative aimed at restoration and watershed enhancement throughout the Illinois River basin. Since 1998, Illinois has committed more than $51.3 million to secure more than $292 million in federal funding through Illinois Rivers 2020 and the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP).
The comprehensive plan will identify restoration needs, focusing on river sedimentation, sediment removal technology, sediment transport and beneficial uses of sediment material removed from the river channel, tributaries and backwater lakes. The plan will also investigate and implement improvements in monitoring of watershed conditions and restoration projects.
Six critical river restoration projects are planned for this year, pending federal funding approval. They include:
Waubonsie Creek (Kane County) - The project will focus on providing fish passage at dams at the lower end of Waubonsie Creek and restoring stream habitat in the creek. Waubonsie Creek flows into the Fox River near Oswego.
Pekin Lake (Tazewell County) - Planning for restoration of backwater lake habitat at Pekin Lake, adjacent to the Illinois River at Pekin, will focus on sediment removal, aquatic and floodplain habitat improvement.
Iroquois River (Iroquois County) - To reduce sediment flow on the upper Iroquois River watershed, a tributary of the Kankakee River. The project will evaluate streambank stabilization and restoration of floodplain wetlands on the main channel and on Sugar Creek, the river’s major tributary, near Watseka.
McKee Creek (Adams, Brown and Pike counties) - Streambank and streambed stabilization on the lower end of McKee Creek and on two of its small tributary subwatersheds in Brown and Pike counties will be evaluated as ways to reduce the flow of sediment into the lower Illinois River. McKee Creek flows into the Illinois River south of Chambersburg in Pike County.
Blackberry Creek (Kane and Kendall counties) - Providing fish passage at the 10-foot dam near the confluence of Blackberry Creek and the Fox River near Yorkville in Kendall County will be examined as a means to improve fish access to the creek’s high-quality habitat.
Kankakee River (Kankakee, Grundy and Will counties) - The project will survey the adverse impacts of sedimentation on aquatic habitat on the Kankakee River upstream of the dam at Kankakee in Kankakee County. The confluence of the Des Plaines and Kankakee rivers forms the Illinois River.
These projects are in addition to continued work on the Peoria Lake Restoration near Peoria. This state-federal initiative will restore ecosystem function in Peoria Lake by removing sediment to create deep water habitat for aquatic life, creating islands using sediment removed from the Peoria Lake bottom to provide more diverse habitat, investigating other beneficial uses of removed sediment, and further reducing sedimentation of Peoria Lake from Farm Creek and other tributaries.