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Kankakee River Open House Forum

Mike Clifford

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I've made it a point to attend this meeting.

Any others care to help me represent the ISA's interests in this watershed?


WHAT: Open House Forum


WHEN: 5-9 p.m. Thursday


WHERE: Quality Inn and Suites, 800 N. Kinzie Ave. Bradley.


WHY: Learn what is being done to preserve the Kankakee watershed


Meeting focuses on area's 'greatest asset'


By Bill Byrns





How do you protect a river?


The question seems simple. The answer is complex.


"Everyone says that the Kankakee River is our greatest asset," said Kankakee County planner Mike Van Mill.


"I agree, but exactly what does that mean? We have never defined what kind of asset it is and what it can be in the future."


The river, Van Mill said, means different things to different people: For fishermen and boaters, it's recreational; nature lovers delight in its ecological diversity; farmers view the network of ditches and tributary streams as vital to their crops; and developers see untapped potential for growth.


Even the crusade to curb sediment and sand build-up in the waterway has no simple solution. How and where do you stop it? What do you do with it? What are the repercussions?


Finding at least some of those answers has mobilized a number of local, state and federal agencies. Each is working on its part of the river puzzle.


On Thursday those agencies will be in Bradley from 5-9 p.m. to discuss those questions one-on-one with the public during an open house at the Quality Inn & Suites.


The event, hosted by the Kankakee River Basin Commission of Illinois, will offer a smorgasbord of information without forcing visitors to sit through a formal presentation.


"People can come and see everyone who is involved in protecting the watershed and go to the areas they want to learn more about," said J. R. Black, chairman of the basin commission.


Van Mill agrees, saying, "There's no pressure. It will be a very informal open house. You can come for five minutes or stay for four hours."


"Those who have questions, whatever they may be, will find the people with the answers there," Black said.


Agencies will include the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Natural Resources Conservation Services; the Illinois departments of Agriculture, Natural Resources and the Environmental Protection Agency; the Kankakee County Planning Department; the Kankakee Soil and Water Conservation District; Farm Bureau; the Kankakee River Conservancy District; Northern Illinois Anglers' Association; and the Kankakee River Basin Commission of Indiana.


"I think this will be a fantastic time to network with agencies," Van Mill said.


"There's a lot going on all across the watershed," Van Mill added, noting efforts in Will and Kankakee counties to preserve the Thorn Creek tributaries and even Kankakee County's new stormwater management plans.


"We are pushing to get municipalities here from Grant Park and Essex," he said, referring to communities at opposite ends of the county. "It's a good opportunity for different groups to get together and talk common cause.''


Black also said that it's important for both federal and state agencies to be reminded just how much a priority the Kankakee River watershed is to the area.


"Attendance at these meetings is important because numbers count to these agencies," Black said.


"Sometimes it's easy for projects to get lost in the bigger picture. The Kankakee River is part of the Illinois Rivers 2020 and Illinois River Restoration projects. It's easy for other projects to take priority. We don't want to see that happen," Black said.

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I've made it a point to attend this meeting.

Any others care to help me represent the ISA's interests in this watershed?


I was unable to attend. Anything interesting to share from the meeting?




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I was unable to attend. Anything interesting to share from the meeting?


Well, it was refreshing to see so many divergent groups able to put aside differences in philosophy and get together in one room for a common goal- making the Kankakee River more sustainable.

Basically, there were tables set up with each group presenting their latest agendas with brochures, posters and photos. I talked at length with quite a few people, and look forward to working more with them.

The Openlands group has an especially attractive program on one of the feeders to the Kankakee in Trim Creek. There was a nice spread of finger food as well as some hot meatballs and other stuff.


Was able to talk with one gentleman that does quite a bit of streambank restoration and native plantings, and plan to look more thoroughly into the catalogue I received from him.


It was neat to run into people that I had only heard about through mutual friends in conservation, so we were able to share some stories in that regard.

Of course everyone that I spoke with was well aware of the ISA and what we are about, and many said they appreciate our dedication to the resource.

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Do you happen to know if LRMG (Land Resource Management Group) was there? I've met with the group on Earth Day when we cleaned up Rock Creek. They are into restoring natural habitat. I'm new to the ISA scene, but I think they would be a great resource for any projects or help.



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