Illinois rivers are in poor health because the landscape has dramatically changed since pre-colonial times. Rivers used to be wide, multichannel river-wetland corridors that captured and held a great deal of water on the landscape. However, once the beavers were trapped to the brink of extinction for their fur, and settlers pumped water off the floodplains and laid thousands of acres of drain tile in order to create farmland, the rivers became disconnected from their floodplains. Illinois lost the vast majority of its wetlands and with it, diverse habitat for fish, birds, amphibians, and mammals. Now add in fertilizers from agricultural runoff and emissions from wastewater and stormwater treatment plants, and you can see why Illinois rivers are in dire need of restoration.
The Illinois Beaver Alliance advocates for the adoption of low-tech, process-based river restoration in Illinois. Low-tech, process-based restoration is the practice of adding locally sourced rock, Beaver Dam Analogs, and anchored log structures to degraded streams and rivers. These additions jumpstart the process of reconnecting rivers to their floodplains, restoring river-wetland corridors that provide habitat for beavers, who either move in on their own or are relocated to restoration sites and serve as live-in, free, skilled ecosystems engineers that maintain the wetlands. Process-based restoration costs 20 percent of conventional, form-based river restoration and scales up easily; thus, Illinois could restore up to five times as much stream and river for the same amount of money as it is currently spending on conventional river restoration. Process-based restoration is currently being used in California, Oregon, Washington, Montana, Iowa, Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico.
Because beavers are a necessary component of maintaining river-wetland corridors, the Illinois Beaver Alliance is reaching out to stakeholders and the public to educate about the role of beavers in engineering, maintaining, and upgrading wetlands and healthy river systems; and about how to resolve human-beaver conflicts nonlethally using modern beaver management tools such as flow devices.
Please consider making a donation to Illinois Beaver Alliance online or by check:
You can make checks payable to ISI with Illinois Beaver Alliance included in the memo & send checks to ISI:
887 Sonoma Ave, #23
Santa Rosa, CA 95404
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