It may be time to think about the Illinois River's future - Peoria-area News, Weather, Sports

It may be time to think about the Illinois River's future

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Fishing, boating, bird watching, those are just a few of the recreational uses the waterways in the heart of Illinois can offer.

"The Illinois River, the Peoria Lakes are one of the biggest assets that this community has," said Jason Beverlin with the Nature Conservancy.

And not to mention the route for barges.

But the Peoria Lakes Basin Alliance is afraid it's taken for granted.

Studies over the past years show the Illinois River is facing obstacles, water quality, altered hydrology, invasive species, and sedimentation.

"There is still a lot of excess sediment in the Illinois River which fills in our back water lakes, Peoria Lake in particular. So we are losing a lot of the depth we had which is critical for the aquatic and waterfowl species," said Marshall Plumley with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Some sections are only three feet deep.

Other organizations have come up with conservation plans in the past but they've never been regionally acted upon leaving the Peoria Lakes and the Illinois River they flow into to degrade.

River advocates said it's not all doom and gloom.

They want a comprehensive conservation plan in place by the Spring of 2018.

"We're really interested in biodiversity. So seeing more aquatic plants more native species that are in the system," said Beverlin.

"We're also looking for the public to bring their ideas to the table, and help us understand what's important," added Plumley.

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