Rapid stream assessments of the Illinois River watershed

William P. White, Laura L. Keefer

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


The Illinois River Basin Ecosystem Restoration Plan acknowledges that erosion by the Illinois River and its tributaries, as well as sediment deposition within the river valley, are significant problems. Naturalization of tributary streams and restoration of biodiversity are key, yet often missing components of traditional watershed planning and management efforts. Watershed plans often outline general problem categories and list potential conceptual solutions but rarely target specific problem sites for action. Conservation work on channel and near-channel environments would significantly complement traditional soil conservation plans and programs in Illinois where sediment contributed from eroding streambanks and streambeds is extensive. Watershed assessments that rapidly, yet effectively, identify potential on-the-ground natural resource restoration sites are well received by the public and public institutions in charge of funding ecosystem restoration efforts. The Illinois State Water Survey (ISWS) has been working to assess and evaluate the Illinois River watershed to facilitate implementation of the larger goals of the Illinois River Basin Ecosystem Restoration Plan. Watershed assessments conducted by the Illinois Scientific Surveys under the auspices of this project include analysis of Geographic Information System (GIS) data, aerial reconnaissance of specific problem areas selected for survey by agreed upon criteria, and field data collection and analysis of geomorphological data and biological indicators. Those data and analyses are being used specifically to locate, characterize, prioritize, design, and construct actual multi-objective restoration projects that reduce erosion, restore habitat, and protect overall ecosystem health. Assessment using a helicopter equipped with a Global Positioning System (GPS)-synchronized aerial camera allows for rapid identification of potential restoration project site areas. After potential sites are identified, analyses will determine hydrological, hydraulic, geomorphological, and biological parameters before prioritizing where to proceed with design and construction of restoration work. This paper briefly describes the framework for the aerial assessment and data collection effort and acknowledges the usefulness of an accessible and integrated data retrieval and analysis system (Illinois Rivers Decision Support System) for tracking activities, evaluating project performance, and making adaptive management decisions. Copyright ASCE 2005.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationWorld Water Congress 2005
Subtitle of host publicationImpacts of Global Climate Change - Proceedings of the 2005 World Water and Environmental Resources Congress
Number of pages1
StatePublished - 2005
Event2005 World Water and Environmental Resources Congress - Anchorage, AK, United States
Duration: May 15 2005May 19 2005

Publication series

NameWorld Water Congress 2005: Impacts of Global Climate Change - Proceedings of the 2005 World Water and Environmental Resources Congress


Other2005 World Water and Environmental Resources Congress
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityAnchorage, AK

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology


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