Tag Archives: conservation issues

Filamentous Algae is back with a Vengeance

The filamentous algae is back with a vengeance starting at the Montgomery crap plant on the Fox River.

In October of 2012 I put up a long post called Consider this Source. Over the course of two years, I documented the filamentous algae issues that were out of control from the Montgomery crap plant to at least Yorkville.

I sent a link to that post to as many people I could think of that has anything to do with Fox River conservation issues. I have no clue if what I did had any impact, nobody ever bothered responding to me. What I do know is that in 2013 and 2014 the algae never reappeared.

That has changed, the algae is back.

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That tells me that the Montgomery crap plant is screwing around with the nitrate levels they release again. I believe that’s what happened last time.

Right now the algae is only in the clear water coming from the plant. When you get to the edge of the plant outflow where it runs along in the river, the algae stops in a very distinct line.

I already know what’s going to happen. By the time the outflow water gets to Oswego, it mixes with all of the other river water. Pretty much starting from the Route 34 bridge down for as far as you want to walk in the river, the algae will start to clog the whole river again. That happened last time, there’s no reason it won’t happen again.

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I’m hoping those in conservation groups up and down the Fox River will see this. I’m hoping those that read this will pass it along to groups they might know. This has to stop. Before 2010, it never happened. It was gone again in 2013-14. All anyone has to do is go stand at the beginning of the outflow of the crap plant, look down stream and the source of all this algae is slapping you in the face.

And, while your at it, ask them about the pictures below.

I fished along the crap plant on April 5th and came across this.

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They had just gone through and cut down all the brush between their fence and the river’s edge. Rather than remove it, they let it lay down along the bank and into the river. I’m assuming they figured that the usual spring high water would take it all down stream somewhere.

We never got very high water and today, June 13th, the brush still sits along the bank and in the river.

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I would imagine there’s a law against doing this.

Or there should be.

Blackberry Creek Dam Removal Update, Lots of Work, Lots of Pictures, Lots of Goldfish

To play catch up, you can read the past progress reports here.
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For some of us, part of our still primitive brains are fascinated with moving things around, or at least watching things get moved around. We were the ones as kids sitting in the dirt or sand boxes. Little toy trucks were pushed around while we made growling noises deep in our throats or farting noises with our lips and we moved dirt or sand from one side to the other. If we really new what we were doing, when we put things in reverse we’d be saying beep, beep, beep.

There are others out there with that still functioning primitive brain. A trip to a beach during the summer will find them. They’re the ones building elaborate sand castles and irrigation systems. If you get up close to them you can probably hear faint growling and farting noises.

I mentioned the other day that I still do this with snow when I shovel. This must all explain why I get a kick out of walking around a mud covered construction site taking pictures of tons of dirt getting moved around.

There are two other people in the area that have this same fascination. Our footprints in the snow and mud are the only ones daring to venture where no others will go. So far, not butt prints in the mud have been found.

Well, anyway… There was a lot of noise coming from across the river all week. A midweek drive by showed they were starting to dredge the next section of the creek behind the dam.

Sure enough, the lower pond bypass channel has been cut off.

On the opposite end, the bypass channel is still open and the water looks like it’s flowing out of the pond.

This has dropped the level of the pond even more.

A reader of these posts named Steve asked how this is all going to affect the fishing in the pond. That’s been in the back of my mind and I’ll have to start asking some questions about this. I have seen carp and minnows going in and out of the bypass channel, with the pond lower now I wonder if more left.

The upper coffer dam has been removed, kind of. More like moved out of the way, but they have to clean it up so whatever works for them.

When you stand above the creek and look out over this water it seems like a lot of water. It’s now all flowing through another bypass channel and down the standpipe.

This goes down through the culvert and back into the creek under the collapsing bridge. For some reason how this looks is not what I expected. Like I said, up above it looks like quite a bit of water, but coming out the culvert, not so much.

The lower coffer dam has been reinforced with more gravel and dirt. A good thing considering how much snow and rain we could get this time of year. I’ve seen this and many other creeks completely blown out and overflowing their banks in the spring. Hopefully all the timing will be right and this project gets done before that happens.

It’s kind of cool to walk out on the creek bed and yet know that you’re a good five feet above the original creek bed. The top layer here is all gravel.

As you walk further down, all the gravel disappears and it’s all silt, or dirt.

I’ve had experience trying to walk on this. One time in particular I sank in up to my crotch and it took a half hour to dig myself out and move only five feet back to solid shore. This looked solid and I was considering giving it a try when I came across this.

That is an imprint of a deer that belly flopped onto the silt. I figured that if a deer with four legs couldn’t walk on this stuff, me with just two legs didn’t stand a chance. I stuck to the more solid shore.

It will be interesting to see what they uncover in the stretch that runs down to the dam. There’s a limestone ledge that has been exposed. I’ve seen this on a few other creeks up and down the river and wonder if it goes all the way down to the original creek bed. The other creeks all do that, why not this one.

Down by the dam there’s an excavator sitting in the middle of the creek.

They’ve already dug out quite a bit and the whole back of the dam is exposed for the first time in 175 years.

Earlier in the week I was watching them do a tag team effort in getting all this sediment out of here. The one excavator dumps it on the shore, another excavator picks it up from there and moves it about 100 feet out of the way. A wheel loader picks it up from there and dumps it into a dump truck. A few hundred yards away they’re building a good sized hill with all this dirt.

If I had half a brain and a pickup truck I’d go beg them for a few loads of this dirt. It’s 175 years of rich black Illinois farmland that would probably make one hell of a raised vegetable garden. You would think it’s about as nutrient rich as it can get. Seems like a waste to keep dumping it out into that field.

After that I went wandering all over the creek bed to see what was left behind. Plenty of clam shells everywhere.

I had no clue what this was till I got right up on top of it. An upside down dead snapping turtle.

For the most part, the rest of the found objects were all human garbage, starting with a fishing lure that was buried in the mud.

The usual tires.

And the never ending reproduction of golf balls. It’s been 39 years since I’ve done any golfing, but I remember a Titleist One being a good ball to use.

Then there were the goldfish.

I don’t recall seeing any goldfish up till now. I have a feeling they were in the pond and got cut off from going back to the pond when the bypass channel was blocked. I’m assuming people thought it was a good idea to get goldfish for their kids. Then, being the carp that they are, they kept getting bigger. Rather than flushing them down the toilet, which I’m sure would have traumatized the kids involved, they were set free in the pond.

This is just a trickle of water they’re swimming around in. Had to be at least 50 of them.

I already know their fate. A little further down is the excavator. This little trickle of water flows down and behind the dam. Here sits a pump that sucks up the water that collects. It sucks it up and spits it all out on the other side of the dam.

I have a feeling the goldfish will emerge on the down stream side of the dam in lots of little colorful pieces of gold that might slightly resemble the pet fish they once were.

Swimming upstream faster than the current… (part 1)

Over the last couple of days, Illinois Department of Natural Resources Director Marc Miller has sent out a couple of email that reads like a State of the Union address for the DNR and goes into some detail about the recently passed DNR Sustainability Bill.

This link is in the following letter from Marc Miller, but in case you don’t think the IDNR has any effect on your life, you may want to go read this first:

Did You Know? DNR Facts and Figures

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Dear DNR constituent:

The passage of the DNR Sustainability Bill (SB1566) is a significant victory for conservation and the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). What the bill does is allow the agency to keep state parks and sites open and begin to address a backlog of needed facility repairs, which now totals $750 million. It also allows us to address other program problems for the agency.

The bill took nearly a year to negotiate and included over 40 DNR constituent groups in talks, who worked with sponsor Rep. Frank Mautino for a consensus bill. A key component and big “win” for conservation included in the bill was the rarely used anti-sweeps language that ensures funds would not be used for other purposes than keeping state parks open and programs working. Governor Pat Quinn’s management and budget director also signed a letter committing to not sweep these funds and hold DNR’s funding level.

This level of commitment to DNR should not be a surprise. During Governor Quinn’s first week on the job and my first day on the job as Director, he signed a different bill that replaced diverted sportsmen’s funds that were swept by our predecessors. We have been working diligently ever since to protect these funds and use them for conservation.

The Sustainability Bill will take effect as law on January 1st, and we project that eventually it will provide DNR with an estimated $30 to $33 million dollars annually to be deposited into dedicated funds connected with each revenue source. There are several steps that the agency needs to take start collecting funds, such as creating rules and regulations and implementing IT infrastructure, and it will be 9 to 12 months before the agency begins to receive the new funding.

I would like to thank those organizations who supported the Sustainability Bill, negotiated its details, and worked for its passage. It is our intent to work as quickly as possible to take the necessary steps to capture new revenues and apply these funds to DNR parks and programs, create new jobs and promote economic development, and to restructure DNR for future generations.

We will uphold our mission of managing the state’s natural resources and begin to repair some of the past neglect from budget cuts. DNR constituents need to understand, however, that victory could be temporary because the state’s budget problems will threaten our progress in the near future. Pension obligations and unpaid bills squeeze agencies like DNR and make General Revenue funds less available for everyday operations. If lawmakers do not act to address the pension squeeze, then everyone’s hard work towards DNR sustainability will be erased by these larger fiscal problems.

Our success at the legislature is one step towards sustainability and demonstrates that we are swimming upstream faster than the current. Stay tuned and I will explain in a second email how you can help DNR and secure the progress we have already made.

Yours in conservation,
Marc Miller, Director
Illinois DNR