Fox Chain O’ Lakes: Offseason Perspective – Part II

Welcome back for Part II of the Fox Chain O’Lakes, an Offseason Perspective.  Northeastern Illinois’s premiere water resource and also one of the most impacted.  We continue to discuss key points surrounding the dynamic conditions of the lake, management prospectus and key pollutants.

Turning our attention now to the waterway, indifferent of stakeholder and agency politics, how does one begin to tackle the problems of the system?  You have watershed problems tied to enormous annual loading of sediments.  There is an ecologically challenged wildlife and fishery that reflects this.  Property-side landowners that do little to no actual shoreline protection or on-lot treatments that are beneficial to the waterway, and what is likely an overused, potentially abused recreational aspect that is also the largest revenue base for the waterway.  What do you do when the largest base revenue source is also one of the largest individual source impacts?  You begin to see how things become heated and political in a short amount of time.  Hundreds to thousands of different voices with different agendas.

But in all reality are our agendas all that different when you distill them back to their source?  Excluding any cases of individuals (or industry) who seem indifferent to the future condition of the Chain O’Lakes, most everyone should understand that there needs to be a realistic, long-term management plan in place to address these issues and placate all users and stakeholders.  The disagreement almost always seems to stem from how to implement such a plan and more specifically in what order to implement the actions necessary to complete the individual steps.

As mentioned in Part I, current management of the Chain O’Lakes consists of treatment techniques focused on the result, not the actual cause which is an expensive way to tread water.  Documented elsewhere, the overall largest load is delivered from the Fox River north of the border, however the largest average annual pulse of sediment is being delivered from in-state.  This would also include a much larger per acre volume of water based on the proximity of impervious surfaces to the Chain O’Lakes.

How do you keep sediment from making its way into the waterway?  Benjamin Franklin is credited with saying, “1 ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”, and it could not be more true in the land use paradigm.  While the FWA has the charge of maintaining the waterway, it only has control of the end point of the sediment and currently lacks the mechanism to address watershed based control.  If only there was a way?  Ah but there is.  We refer to these things as partnerships.

Somewhere along the line the concept of partnering was never realized or never considered, but ultimately there are no functional partnerships that are resulting in worthwhile land management objectives.  Perhaps they once did exist, but never materialized.  Hindsight being what it is the only logical, somewhat economically conscious method of reaching equilibrium with the landscape will be through better watershed practices and structured partnerships.  What kind of partnerships?  Where is the economical gain?  Who controls land management use?

Part III of the offseason perspective coming soon.

~posted by LL&S

 

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