Mud to Parks & the Illinois River Project

barge and dredging equipment on riverdump trucks spreading mud from the river on dry land

The Illinois River provides commerce, recreation, and environmental habitat for a major portion of the state of Illinois. However, the River has been filling with sediment for the past century to the point that few areas outside the main channel are more than two feet deep. The result is a significant decrease in recreational use and fish and wildlife populations.

John Marlin of the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC) is one of the leaders in the Illinois Rivers 2020 effort to revive the Illinois River. One project element was looking at how to remove sediment from the Illinois River in a cost effective and safe manner. Study teams investigated dredging and transport techniques, the quality of the sediment and a variety of potential uses. The removed sediment was used to restore habitats such as islands and may prove suitable for use as landscaping soil, especially at strip mines and abandoned industrial sites near navigation channels.

Project cooperators included a number of divisions of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, the Illinois Scientific Surveys, the University of Illinois, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, numerous private companies, and a variety of federal, state, and local organizations.

Restoring the greatness of the Illinois River provided recreational and economic opportunities for Illinois citizens and help make the state more attractive to potential employers and their workers. ISTC is proud to be part of this successful effort, and as a result, the Mud to Parks program was formed to expand these efforts to other locations besides the Illinois River.