Inside Region 3
Midwest Region
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Boating down the Illinois River. Photo courtesy of Wendy Piersall/Creative Commons.

Boating down the Illinois River. Photo courtesy of Wendy Piersall/Creative Commons.

Strengthening Our Partnerships for the Illinois River Watershed

The Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program (Partners Program) is dedicated to working with private landowners as partners in conservation. In Illinois, the Partners Program is working with a new group of dedicated landowners that are helping improve the health of the Illinois River Watershed by completing stream bank stabilization projects on their properties. One of the Partners Program’s main goals is to strengthen and broaden our partnerships; this goal supports our mission by working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the benefit of you, the American people.

The Partners Program is partnering with several different kinds of landowners in seven counties to enhance the Illinois River Watershed. To accomplish large watershed restoration projects it takes many people coming together to discuss the best way for restoration efforts to benefit everyone.

“To help us accomplish this goal, we are working with our newest partner the Illinois Department of Agriculture,” says Gwen Kolb, the Partners Program Illinois State Coordinator. “We are also partnering with the Illinois Natural History Survey, Prairie Research Institute at the University of Illinois and private landowners to ensure that our science, monitoring protocols and methods are accurate to historical knowledge of the landscape.”

For example, there have been five surrogate species identified in the Eastern Tallgrass Prairie and Big Rivers landscape that have a historic presence in the area and will be targets for monitoring. The enjoyment and health of the Illinois River watershed is a focus point of this effort for all involved. Overall, partners will be contributing more than $187,000 of in kind contributions or dollars to stabilize stream banks, survey and identify fish species, and initiate a water quality monitoring program. These efforts will help to keep contaminants and sediments out of the water and ensure that the watershed is safe for everyone to enjoy.

“The word partner is used loosely in everyday conversation. When it comes to the Partners Program the word partner emphasizes a diverse camaraderie of skilled scientists and interested community members with one goal in mind,” says Gwen Kolb. “We could not do this work without our partners’ knowledge and contributions. Most folks do not realize the connection between these projects and the health of a watershed. When the water is clean, everyone and everything wins!”

The Partners Program is here to help private landowners make a difference in conservation. If you are interested in learning more about the Partners Program, please visit our website. Also, keep an eye out for additional feature stories in future issues of Inside Region 3 on the Partners Program’s other three key goals and how the program supports the mission of the Service.

By Alejandro Morales
Regional Office - External Affairs

Last updated: June 4, 2015