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OUTDOOR ILLINOIS is published monthly by the Department of Natural Resources, Office of Public Services, 524 S. Second St., Springfield, IL 62701-1787, phone (217) 782-7454, e-mail

(Publication number: ISSN 1072-7175) Periodical Postage Paid at Springfield, IL POSTMASTER: Send address changes to OUTDOOR ILLINOIS, Department of Natural Resources, Dept. NL, 524 S. Second St., Springfield, IL 62701-1787.

George H. Ryan    Governor
Brent Manning    Director
James D. Garner    Deputy Director
Jim Riemer, Jr.    Deputy Director

STAFF: James L. Fulgenzi, office director; Gary Thomas, editor; Liz Pensoneau, managing editor; John Alien, staff writer; P.J. Perea, staff writer; Adele Hodde, chief photographer; Chas. J. Dees, staff photographer; Charles J. Copley, design & layout; Cheryl Gwinn, production coordinator; Vera Lynn Smith, circulation.

Illinois Department of Natural Resources
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Staff-written material appearing in this publication may be reprinted without permission, provided that OUTDOOR ILLINOIS, Illinois Department of Natural Resources, is acknowledged as the source. OUTDOOR ILLINOIS assumes no responsibility for the return of unsolicited manuscripts or illustrations.

Equal opportunity to participate in programs of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) and those funded by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other agencies is available to all individuals regardless of race, sex, national origin, disability, age, religion or other non-merit factors. If you believe you have been discriminated against, contact the funding source's civil rights office and/or the Equal Employment Opportunity Officer, DNR, 524 S. Second, Springfield, IL 62701-1787; 217/785-0067; TTY 217/782-9175.

All public meetings conducted by the Department of Natural Resources will be accessible to handicapped individuals in compliance with Executive Order No. 5 and pertinent state and federal laws, upon notification of the anticipated attendance. Handicapped persons planning to attend and needing special accommodations should inform the Department of Natural Resources at least five days prior to the meeting by telephoning or writing the Equal Employment Opportunity Officer, Department of Natural Resources, 524 S. Second St., Springfield, IL 62701-1787, phone (217) 785-0067.

Department of Natural Resources information is available to the hearing impaired by calling DNR's Telecommunications Device for the Deaf (217) 782-9175.

Printed by the Authority of the State of Illinois PRT3216173-28,395-7/01 Illinois Department of Natural Resources Printed on recycled and recyclable paper with soy-based ink.

Illinois Department of
Natural Resources

What's Inside


Hog Wild
One of southern Illinois' newest residents is an unwanted guest.



Bird Songs
This young southern Illinoisan has honked and quacked his way into the record books.


Dark Secrets
Illinois Caverns is more than just another hole in the ground.



Photo Finish
Announcing the winners of our first-ever OutdoorIllinois photo contest.



Pyramid State Park

This quiet southern Illinois state park is heading for the big time.


Plight of the Perch
The population of this popular Lake Michigan sport fish has crashed, but researchers see hope for the future.


Proposed changes in Great Lakes water usage, information about this year's Wildlife Preservation Fund, the winner of the Avery Goose Calling Championship, trail grant applications, an updated hunting preserves brochure and the opening of a new museum facility are among the stories in this month's NewsFront.


On the cover...

Staff photographer Chas. J. Dees was near the main entrance at Kankakee River State Park last year when he took this month's cover photo.


February 2001


Brent Manning
Brent Manning

Like the human aorta, the Illinois River carries life across this state from its industrial heart to the farthest agricultural branches. Its 26,000-square-mile watershed includes 10 million acres of farmland that account for 46 percent of our agricultural economy. Ninety percent of our population lives in the river basin's 55-county area, and almost 900,000 Illinoisans rely on it for drinking water.

A crucial part of the U.S. navigation system linking the Great Lakes to the Mississippi River, the Illinois River is used each year for shipping more than 60 million tons of goods to market, including half the state's annual corn crop. Riverside industries employ some 57,000 people and generate more than $400 million in yearly payroll taxes.

Yet the river and its tributaries are more than just an important economic resource. They are also a recreational treasure used by thousands of boaters, anglers and waterfowl hunters.

To stretch the aorta metaphor, our river has absorbed too many bacon cheeseburgers and is in dire need of angioplasty. The river and many of its backwaters are being choked by sediment that, in turn, is ruining habitat vital to the survival of numerous plant, animal and fish species. Since 1900, 18 species of Illinois River fish have disappeared completely, and 65 percent of all fish species have seen drastic reductions in their numbers. Duck populations have declined by as much as 90 percent.

There are several culprits in the river's degradation, including flooding, urban sprawl and agriculturgal erosion. They combine to dump more than 17,000 truckloads of sediment into the river and its tributaries every day. More than 90 percent of the river basin's wetlands have been lost, which contributes to the problem because they slowed flooding by absorbing storm water runoff.

The state and federal governments spend millions of dollars each year to maintain navigation channels, yet relatively little has been spent on erosion and sediment control programs due to lack of funds.

As the new millennium dawns, that's all changing. The State of Illinois recently reached agreement with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to create a plan to save the river. Called the Illinois River Ecosystem Restoration Study, the $5.2 million multi-year effort will address watershed/tributary restoration, side channel and backwater restoration, water level management and floodplain restoration and protection.

This agreement is the starting point for the Illinois Rivers 2020 program, which seeks long-term funding federal Environmental Agency, Department of Agriculture and Corps of Engineers to develop new technologies and innovative approaches for sediment removal, erosion and habitat restoration.

To pay for these innovation Rivers 2020 calls for full fund federal Environmental Quality Incentives. Farmland Protection and Habitat Incentives programs, and expansion of the Conseravtion Reserve, Wetlands Restoration and Conservation Reserve Enhancement programs. It also seeks additional funds under the Clean Water and Water Resources Development acts. The latter recently received a three-year, $100 million authorization for the Illinois River Basin Restoration which will implement the recommendations from the Illinois River Ecosytem Restoration Study.

Our agency, the Illinois Department of Agriculture and the offices of Gov. George H. Ryan and Lt. Gov. Corrine Wood developed this program and worked with our Congressional delegation to get it passed last November. We will continue working together to ensure it is successful, so the Illinois River can resume a full and vital life.


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