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Nippersink Creek restoration takes step forward

Published: Sunday, Aug. 3, 2014 11:17 p.m. CDT • Updated: Sunday, Aug. 3, 2014 11:20 p.m. CDT

RINGWOOD – A project that could minimize flooding along Nippersink Creek is moving forward.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is preparing to accept bids on the project, which includes restoring 3.5 miles of the creek and 550 acres of sedge meadow, wet prairie and wet mesic oak savanna in the area.

The project will run from the center of McHenry County Conservation District’s Glacial Park almost to North Solon, continuing where other restoration efforts have left off.

Nippersink Creek was straightened in the 1950s to make it better suited for agriculture, said Ed Collins, the conservation district’s director of land preservation and natural resources.

But the alterations to the creek had unforeseen consequences.

With the creek straighter, water flowed through more quickly, causing the water to cut deeper and stream banks to fall in. The deeper riverbed meant Glacial Park no longer served as a floodplain for residents downstream.

The project plan calls for the installation of five rocky rapid areas called riffles in the stream, the return of the creek’s original grade and the restoration of the banks to a more gentle slope.

Non-native species in the surrounding areas will be removed, and the area will be replanted with natural wetland plants.

Besides potentially alleviating some flooding, the changes also will mean better water quality, a better wildlife and fish habitat and easier access to the creek for those fishing and kayak and canoe users, Collins said.

The restoration project is expected to cost about $4 million and is being paid for by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which is also providing technical expertise. The conservation district is covering its portion of the grant with previous land acquisitions.

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