Prairie Research Institute

Illinois River Management Plan

In 1997, an interdisciplinary, multi-agency collaboration developed an Integrated Management Plan (IMP) for the Illinois River Watershed, which encompasses approximately 44 percent of the land in Illinois. The watershed plays a prominent role in supporting the ecological structure and function of natural resources of the state by providing a habitat for fish and wildlife, giving recreational opportunities, producing fertile floodplain soils, and providing a resource for drinking water to human and animal inhabitants as well as water for irrigation of agricultural lands and industrial uses.

In 2017, the Office of the Lieutenant Governor asked PRI scientists to review and report on the progress that has been made toward the IMP’s seven key objectives over the past 20 years based on PRI’s data and studies. As home to the state’s five scientific surveys, PRI offers diverse scientific expertise and perspectives and a wealth of long-term data on Illinois’ resources.

Although PRI conducts many monitoring and research studies directly related to these seven objectives, no dedicated funds were set aside by the state in 1997 to achieve those objectives. Since then, however, some progress or monitoring has been conducted with targeted programs, and some has been a side benefit of other programs. PRI’s report is an attempt to evaluate the 20-year progress on the objectives based on a compilation of existing PRI data sources, status and trend summaries, and monitoring and research efforts conducted in accordance with PRI’s mission. PRI also identified a number of recommendations for future studies of the Illinois River Watershed that would enable a more complete picture of progress in the coming years and expand on the objectives to cover areas of concern not included in the IMP in 1997.

Final report: Assessing Progress on the 1997 Integrated Management Plan for the Illinois River Watershed,