Urbana Park District welcomes visitors at Crystal Lake Park to notice new wildlife habitats in the creek and surrounding land.
These habitat improvements are 18-years in the making.
In July of 2002 there was an accidental industrial release of ammonia into the Saline Branch of the Salt Fork River occurred that caused a fish kill spanning a ten-mile stretch of the waterway, including both the Saline and Salt Fork. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources assessed the damage and entered settlement talks for compensatory habitat and stream improvement projects throughout the affected areas.
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR), the Urbana Park District, U.S Fish & Wildlife Service, Living Waters Consultants and the University of Illinois worked together to develop a project for the Saline Branch in Crystal Lake Park. IDNR hosted opportunities for public comment throughout the site selection and design phases before finalizing the scope of the project. The project includes building rock riffles and deflectors, reshaping of areas of badly eroded stream slope, invasive species removal, and native plantings.
Workers completed the first phase in the summer of 2020, at a total cost of $225,000 with funding provided by IDNR. More recently, the US Fish and Wildlife Service provided an extra $33,000 in funds to provide some additional habitat structures, remove invasive plants, and plant native species. The rest of this work will be complete by the end of 2020.
Keep a watchful eye on these habitat improvements as aquatic life colonizes the rock riffle and deflector pools and the native plants establish along the banks in the coming years! The lake rehabilitation project is also nearing completion with yet more habitat improvements including emergent wetlands, native grasses and wildflowers along the shoreline, and the planting of over 350 native trees and shrubs.