Work continues on river island

Brandon Hovey
The man-made river island is helping to restore deep water habitats, according to Marshall Plumley.

Residents of the Tri-County area are aware of islands in a stream; the Illinois River is having a man-made island hewn from river sediment.

The core purpose of the project, according to Marshall Plumley of the Army Corps of Engineers’ Office of Program Management, is to, “restore deep water habitats lost due to excessive sedimentation.”

Islands in the Illinois River are not a recent occurrence, said Plumley.

“United States Geographical Survey maps showed islands in the Illinois River around the turn of the last century,” he said.

This Peoria area project is a component of a “larger effort to restore ecosystems and combat river sediment,” Plumley said.

The sediment problem in the Illinois River has caused a number of problems, and the island helps to provide a solution and prevention as well.

The island is a potential habitat for waterfowl and it provides a way for navigation to be maintained on the Illinois River consistently through “365 days a year, 24 hours a day,” Plumley said.

Critics of the island project have argued that an island in the Illinois river provides a breeding ground for mosquitoes and the West Nile virus.

Plumley refutes this.

“We are not creating wetlands,” he said.

Combating sediment is a process that is best undertaken with a watershed approach, and Plumley said his office plans to eventually approach Woodford County landowners to assist in varying ways to allow for a better waterway.

Above all, the project is lauded by the Corps of Engineers as a cost-effective measure to restore ecosystems.