fox river watershed
From the tiny creek running through your neighborhood to the mighty Fox River that defines the towns along its banks, we’re working in the water, on the streets, and around the conference table to improve the health of the Fox River Valley. Find out more about specific waterways and projects below.
Fox River Education & Outreach Initiative
Whether you spent your childhood along its banks, enjoy fishing its currents, live near it, or just appreciate the view as you drive over it, if you love the Fox River, you have found kindred spirits in The Conservation Foundation and the Hamill Family Foundation.
The siblings who make up the Hamill Family Foundation love the Fox River so much that they have funded The Conservation Foundation’s new Fox River Education & Outreach Initiative to thrust the river into the spotlight of the communities it runs through. The main goal of the Fox River Initiative is to instill in watershed residents that same love and respect for the Fox River ecosystem and the many values – cultural, social, economic, and ecological – that it provides.
The Fox River Initiative is an education and outreach program focused in Kane, Kendall, and LaSalle counties with three key pillars.
We are addressing the health of the Fox River in a variety of ways, from educating schoolchildren and scouts, providing community workshops on sustainable landscaping practices, wildlife, and other relevant topics, helping community leaders craft their ordinances, and community management policies with the health of the river in mind to capturing the beauty of the Fox on canvas and encouraging the public to interact with the river that defines our communities.
A Citizen’s Guide to Preserving the Fox River contains:
- Maps with lots of pictures so people get a better understanding of the Fox River and how we are all connected to it.
- Brief history (flora and fauna) of the Fox River, and how the River has changed over time.
- Special places within the watershed where people can go on short trips and experience nature and the Fox River (unique forest preserves, parks, nature preserves, sections of the river to canoe, etc.).
- Real ideas on what people can do such as build rain gardens, install rain barrels, rainwater harvesting, river/creek cleanups, native landscaping, etc.
A Citizen's Guide to
Preserving the Fox River
The beautiful Fox River meanders through our daily lives with a quiet grace that improves our communities. A Citizen’s Guide to Preserving the Fox River is a coffee table-style guide produced by The Conservation Foundation and the Fox River Ecosystem Partnership to profile the Fox River as a special place in our region that needs our help and protection and offer ideas for people to help the river and places to go to gain a better appreciation.
Aux Sable Creek
The Aux Sable Creek watershed drains the majority of southern Kendall and portions of Grundy & Will Counties. Aux Sable Creek is one of the highest quality streams in northeastern Illinois.
Significant tributaries include the East, Middle, and West branches of the Aux Sable as well as Valley Run, Walley Run, Collins Run, Lisbon Creek, and Saratoga Creek. It is a sub-watershed of the Illinois River, and part of the Prairie Parklands Ecosystem Partnership (PPP). It is home to the Baker Woods Forest Preserve in Kendall County and numerous beautiful stretches along the wooded creek.
It has been comprised primarily of farmland with some industrial complexes in the southern portion of the watershed. It has recently experienced rapid suburban development, which can greatly impact the quality and stability of the creek. Developments in Joliet, Minooka, Plainfield, and Yorkville have already been built in the watershed.
In 1997, a committee comprised of local citizens and community leaders formed to create a watershed plan working with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Kendall County Soil & Water Conservation District (SWCD). It included technical information about the Aux Sable Creek as well as what representatives from various perspectives might do to protect and preserve the 185 square mile watershed.
In 2007, The Conservation Foundation was asked to help facilitate an update to the previous plan to meet new criteria for Watershed Based Action Plans developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The Conservation Foundation worked with the Aux Sable Creek Watershed Coalition to obtain a grant to update the plan. Foundation staff also facilitated the update, convening the various stakeholders in the watersheds (landowners, local government representatives, conservation organizations, etc.) to provide input. The plan was completed in June of 2009 and can be found on the Aux Sable Creek Coalition Website.
Aux Sable Creek Watershed Coalition
PO Box 306
Minooka, IL 60447
Big rock Creek
Big Rock Creek starts in DeKalb and Kane Counties west of Elburn and flows through southwestern Kane and western Kendall Counties on its way to the Fox River. The Big Rock Creek watershed also includes Little Rock Creek. Big Rock Creek is one of the highest quality streams in northeastern Illinois.
The past two decades have brought unprecedented growth to the Big Rock Creek watershed, presenting challenges to flood control and maintaining the creek’s pristine water quality. In response to these pressures and the historic 1996 flood, The Conservation Foundation facilitated a watershed plan to guide efforts to protect the creek. We have also facilitated the preservation of a couple of high quality properties along the creek, such as the Forest Preserve District of Kane County’s purchase of the Marvel Davis farm outside of the town of Big Rock and the creation of two new forest preserves along Little Rock Creek in Kendall County.
Big Rock Creek Voluntary Land Conservation Planning Project
In 2015, The Conservation Foundation, with the help of an enthusiastic and knowledgeable stakeholder group, completed a voluntary Land Conservation Plan for the Big Rock Creek watershed.
The plan identified properties along the main stem of the Big Rock Creek in Kane and Kendall Counties as priorities for preservation. Though preservation is strictly voluntary, it is our hope that as many of these properties and their abundant natural resources and habitats as possible will be placed under some sort of long-term protection. This plan will also be useful in obtaining grant funding for preservation projects.
The Blackberry Creek watershed spans south-central Kane and north-central Kendall counties and covers portions of the Cities of Aurora, Batavia, and Yorkville, and the Villages of Campton Hills, Elburn, Montgomery, North Aurora, Oswego, and Sugar Grove and has a drainage area of nearly 75 square miles.
Several tools were developed for the watershed after the 1996 floods. Of note, the Blackberry Creek Watershed Alternative Futures Analysis and Fiscal Impact Study and Blackberry Creek Watershed Zoning Analysis and Ordinance Language Recommendations. Also, the first Blackberry Creek Watershed Management Plan was produced by the Blackberry Creek Watershed Resource Planning Committee in September 1999. These tools and the stakeholders involved in their development were important assets during the process of updating the Blackberry Creek watershed plan.
The Conservation Foundation began working with the Fox River Ecosystem Partnership (FREP) and Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) in the fall of 2010 to update the Blackberry Creek Watershed plan and incorporate nine elements that are now required by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency. The Conservation Foundation provided watershed coordination and outreach efforts throughout the planning process and continues to support stakeholders as they implement plan recommendations. The final watershed plan was submitted and approved by Illinois EPA.
The watershed plan provides recommendations to reduce fecal coliform bacteria entering the streams and other water quality protection efforts; implement education and outreach efforts to local stakeholders; incorporate land use best management practices to reduce the volume of stormwater runoff. The Conservation Foundation developed the following tools to help educate stakeholders:
The Ferson-Otter Creek watershed is located in Kane County and covers portions of the Cities of Elgin and St. Charles as well as the Villages of Campton Hills, South Elgin, and Lily Lake. The watershed consists of two subwatersheds: Ferson Creek and Otter Creek and has a drainage area of approximately 54 square miles.
The Conservation Foundation began working with the Fox River Ecosystem Partnership (FREP) and Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) in the fall of 2010 to complete a watershed plan for the Ferson-Otter Creek Watershed. The Conservation Foundation provided watershed coordination and outreach efforts throughout the planning process and continues to support stakeholders as they implement plan recommendations. The final watershed plan was submitted and approved by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (Illinois EPA).
The Lower Fox River, from Yorkville to Ottawa, is especially valuable ecologically, aesthetically, and economically to the communities and residents in the area. The Conservation Foundation has played a major role in conservation planning and preserving natural lands along this corridor, especially in the “Fox River Dells” bluff section between Sheridan and Wedron in LaSalle County.
Also, during the summer of 2013, The Conservation Foundation purchased 253 acres of lush ravines, woodlands, and a mile of Fox River Frontage to form the Dayton Bluffs Preserve just north of Ottawa.
Learn more about ongoing efforts in the Lower Fox River watershed.
The Conservation Foundation was asked to help facilitate an update to the original Tyler Creek watershed plan, developed in 1996, to meet new criteria for Watershed Based Action Plans developed by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.
The plan update was completed in 2007. The Conservation Foundation is working in partnership with the Kane DuPage Soil and Water Conservation District to continue outreach efforts.
The Tyler Creek Watershed Coalition is comprised of watershed stakeholders who are committed to work together to preserve and protect the water quality and natural resources of Tyler Creek, a tributary to the Fox River in northeastern Illinois. Their mission is to bring together a diverse coalition of stakeholders to protect the unique and irreplaceable natural resources of the Tyler Creek Watershed through cooperative partnerships, smart land use decisions, and sensible growth. For more information about the Coalition and the watershed plan please visit their website.