The entire Illinois River Basin includes approximately 19.2 million acres, covering 44 percent of the land area of the State of Illinois and including more than a dozen tributaries of the main river. About 1,000 square miles of the watershed extend into Wisconsin. The Kankakee and Iroquois Rivers extend 3,200 square miles into Indiana. Even a small part of Michigan is included in the Illinois River drainage basin.
The Illinois River Basin includes 46 percent of Illinois’ agricultural land, 28 percent of its forests, 37 percent of its surface waters and streams, and 95 percent of its urban areas.
The Illinois River Basin Restoration Program seeks to restore and maintain ecological integrity to the region. This work includes rebuilding the habitats for native species. The program also encourages looking at the entire watershed as a unit, instead of each stream, creek and tributary river separately. Once complete, the Illinois Waterway region will be an even greater magnet for people wanting to go boating, fishing or hunting.
Today and in the future, the responsibility for safe use of the Illinois Waterway rest with the recreation users. Boaters, anglers and hunters need to include safety in their trip planning.
Among the multiple agencies responsible for promoting the safe use of the Illinois Waterway is the US Army Corps of Engineers. Corps of Engineers Park Rangers are dedicated to educating boaters about how to use the water safely.