Lake Michigan Coastal Management Program

Since 2012, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) Coastal Management Program (CMP) has worked to protect and enhance the environmental, economical, and social value of Illinois’ 63 miles of Lake Michigan coastline. The coastal area is a complex mix of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems that have been significantly modified from their natural state, and highly urbanized. Additionally, Lake Michigan is also a drinking water source for millions of Illinois residents so issues of legacy and emerging contaminants and polluted runoff pose significant threats to water quality.

In order to address these coastal issues, IDNR and the Prairie Research Institute (PRI) at the University of Illinois entered into cooperative agreements to share resources and expertise to develop innovative approaches to coastal management. ISTC staff, led by Deb Jacobson, are assisting CMP with pollution prevention, sustainable development, technical assistance, program development, outreach, and engagement. ISTC is working closely with the Illinois State Water Survey, Illinois State Geological Survey, and Illinois Natural History Survey on these efforts.

The main tasks in the 3-year agreement, which began in fall 2018, are to:

  • Address sources of water quality degradation to improve nearshore and in-lake habitats.
  • Characterize coastal wetlands in order to prioritize wetlands for stormwater management, restoration, and conservation efforts.
  • Develop strategies for the management and conservation of ravine habitats with a focus on stability of steep slopes and habitat quality.
  • Facilitate the Citizen Science shoreline monitoring program in Illinois (COASTS) to improve the understanding of physical changes of the Lake Michigan coast and their potential impacts to habitat health.
  • Improve regional public shoreline and sand management by communities through coordination, technical assistance, and communication.
  • Increase and improve coastal education and engagement.
  • Increase the capacity of coastal communities to protect coastal infrastructure, shorelines, and community resources to ensure the long-term sustainability of community values.
  • Provide technical support and assistance for the delisting the Waukegan Harbor Area of Concern and support environmental monitoring, restoration, and Beneficial Use Impairments (BUI) removal.
  • Support and promote sustainable coastal economic development, tourism, and recreation opportunities along the coastline.

Funding from: Illinois Department of Natural Resources through support from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration