Dam Removal Benefits Schiller Woods

| June 1, 2013
Todd Kutchinski poses with a 4lb Smallmouth bass that he caught in Schiller Woods on the Des Plaines River.  This fish is part of the recent stocking done downstream by IDNR.  Without the recent removal of river dams nearby, this fish would not have been able to migrate up into Schiller Woods.

Todd Kutchinski poses with a 4lb Smallmouth bass that he caught in Schiller Woods on the Des Plaines River. This fish is part of the recent stocking done downstream by IDNR. Without the recent removal of river dams nearby, this fish would not have been able to migrate up into Schiller Woods.

On a hot summer afternoon in June of 2012, an excavator rigged with a jack hammer was about to mark a historical moment for the Des Plaines River downstream in Riverside.  For the first time in almost two hundred years, the section of river in Riverside and Lyons returned to a free flowing stream, unimpeded by a man made dam.

  In 1826, settlers built the first makeshift large dam in the river bend upstream of the Old Chicago Portage.  Since then, the dam which would later be known as Hoffman Dam had been rebuilt, modified, and closely protected by the citizens of Riverside with an emphasis on historical preservation.  The whole village of Riverside is protected by national landmark status for being an early planned park like community.  The developer, who also designed New York’s Central Park, included the sweeping bend in the river along with the dam and the large pool of water created by the dam.

After thirty years of protests, lots of debate, and scientific study, the dam was finally removed along with two smaller dams.  One of which was in nearby River Grove.  The main reason for the removal of Hoffman dam was to restore an exhausted ecosystem upstream of the dam.  For long the dam had prevented fish to migrate upstream after their seasonal migration downstream.  It had also been the site of many deaths and was a major hazard to boaters and kayakers.  Before the removal, electro-shocking was done by I.D.N.R. to sample specie above and below the dam.  Downstream of Hoffman dam biologists were reporting over thirty three species of fish, while upstream of the dam they only sampled fourteen specie.  The objective of the project was to re-join these two separate ecosystems into one healthy stream.  Unlike a lot of the rumors, this project had nothing to do with flood control.

In almost a year since the removal of the dam, the diversity upstream has increased tremendously.   The state of Illinois even sponsored a stocking of a hundred and twenty six tagged smallmouth bass for stream survey.  This brings me to a feel good story for our section of river in Schiller Woods.   After stocking the smallmouth bass in Lyons in late October, a few of the stocked fish have already made their way up to Schiller Woods,  along with other game species like channel catfish and walleye, providing proof of the migration that these fish desperately need.   The state is asking anyone who catches a smallmouth bass with a tag near its top fin, take note of the tag number and immediately release the fish.  Then report the fish to the Illinois Stream Survey hotline.

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Category: Articles, Community News

About the Author ()

Barbara is the publisher of People and Places Newspaper which she started in August of 2011. A lifelong resident of Schiller Park, she always felt it important that residents needed to be kept informed about their communities. Since newspaper coverage for Schiller Park stopped about twenty years ago, she made it a goal to bring a newspaper back to the area. She tries to include all of Leyden Township in her reporting and wants to keep true with the mission of the paper to "inform, educate and entertain."

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