The Emiquon Project:
Restoration of a Flood Pulse River Ecosystem
The Illinois River is part of one of the great large-floodplain river ecosystems in the world. The naturally dynamic relationship between a large river and its floodplain is paramount in maintaining the natural ecological productivity and diversity of these systems.
A century ago, much of the Illinois River’s floodplain was isolated from the river by levees, drained by ditching and pumping, and converted to agricultural lands. These changes in land use eliminated or significantly altered the important ecological processes of seasonal flooding (i.e., the flood pulse) that formerly sustained the phenomenal biological productivity and diversity of the Illinois River ecosystem.
Restoration of floodplains along the Illinois River, and other streams, is an essential part of restoring the natural ecological processes and the biological diversity of the Illinois River ecosystem.
In 2007, 7,425 acres of land immediately adjacent to the Illinois River and owned by The Nature Conservancy began a transformation from farmland to its natural state – a large river floodplain. This undertaking represents one of the first river reclamation efforts on this grand scale.
The Therkildsen Field Station at Emiquon
In order to study, research, and document this unique, immense experiment, UIS established the Alfred O. and Barbara Cordwell Therkildsen Field Station at Emiquon. The Therkildsen Field Station is a scientific facility near the towns of Lewiston and Havana, IL, about 45 miles northwest from Springfield on the Illinois River. Map to Emiquon (JPEG).
Elements that make Therkildsen a unique facility include:
- Its location and cooperation with the Conservancy will make the Therkildsen Field Station the premier scientific facility associated with the Emiquon restoration.
- The Therkildsen Field Station offers both on-site and on-line learning.
- Therkildsen supports UIS student & faculty research, and it will work in conjunction with the Conservancy’s staff and other collaborating scientists.
- Therkildsen has developed a collection documenting species diversity and change – both at the traditional (specimen) level and at the molecular (meta-genomic) level.