A man-made island meant to preserve the Illinois River as it flows through the Peoria area is complete.
Officials cut the ribbon on the Peoria Upper Island at a ceremony on Friday. The 24-acre landmass located just north of the McClugage Bridge is meant to help preserve the waterway that means so much, both for entertainment and commerce, to the region and nation. The project restores nearly 50 acres of aquatic habitat used by overwintering and spawning fish, as well as migrating waterfowl.
"So that not only us, but our grandkids and their grandkids can appreciate these things in a sustainable fashion," said Corps of Engineers Colonel Mark Deschenes.
374,000 cubic yards of sediment was dredged to construct the island. Deschenes says getting sediment out of the river protects depth diversity, which is good for wildlife and boaters. But Illinois River Basin Program Coordinator Marshall Plumley says the project represents more than just pushing dirt around.
"It represents a conversation about the Illinois River, about the river basin, and what it means to Illinois," said Plumley.
The project, which took more than a decade to complete, cost about $8.7 million. The cost was shared between state and federal funds, with the state picking up 35%.
The Upper Island is just part of the overall picture for Illinois River preservation efforts. Officials say it's in addition to the already completed Waubonsie and Blackberry Creek Fish Passage critical restoration projects. Construction of four more projects are planned, pending state and federal funding. Those include Pekin Lake North and South, Altol Pool Side Channel and Island, and Starved Rock Pool Side Channels and Islands.