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The Kaskaskia River Basin : an inventory of the region’s resources

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Title: The Kaskaskia River Basin : an inventory of the region’s resources
Author(s): Krohe, James Jr.
Subject(s): Natural resources --Illinois --Kaskaskia River Valley Environmental protection --Illinois --Kaskaskia River Valley Ecosystem management --Illinois --Kaskaskia River Valley
Geographic Coverage: Illinois
Abstract: The Kaskaskia is the second longest river in inland Illinois. Measured by almost any standard -- ecological, recreational, economical -- it is the crucial natural resource for a great swathe of mid-Illinois. The river is not, however, a dominating physical presence. Through much of its length it travels in disguise. For more than 30 miles it masquerades as two massive lakes -- two of the three biggest in inland Illinois. Its lowermost 36 miles, upstream from where it empties into the Mississippi, has been remodeled as a barge canal. Along much of the rest of its course the Kaskaskia's presence is masked by some of the most extensive bottomland forests left in the state. The watershed of the Kaskaskia River takes in all or parts of 22 counties, from Champaign County in east-central Illinois to south-central Randolph County -more than 5,700 square miles or 10.2% of the land surface of the state. It is large enough that climatic differences from one end to another are fairly marked. Average annual precipitation is about one inch higher in the southern parts of the watershed than in the northern parts, and some plants found in the south -- species such as overcup oak, sugarberry, and swamp holly -- are not found in the north. The 9% of this area that is considered to be especially rich in ecological resources amounts to nearly 325,000 acres, most of which are found in and along the Kaskaskia itself. The region was one of the first to be settled in Illinois, and thus among the first to be altered. The vegetation was a familiar Illinois mix of prairie and forest, but the proportions of each varied within the region. Grasslands dominated in the northern one-third of the watershed. The southern two-thirds of the region is more rugged and thus more wooded, as ravines offered trees shelter from both prairie fires and drought. An estimated 60% of the surface in this part of the watershed was forested (counting open woods in the form of savanna) when settlement began. The Kaskaskia watershed still has lots of trees, although most of this is new growth on once-cleared land. Forest makes up about 13 % of today's ground cover, most of it crowded into stream bottoms and on hillsides in its more rugged southern two-thirds. Within the nearly 136,000 acres of bottomland forest is Illinois' largest block of contiguous forest, a 7,000-acre tract of floodplain forest and post oak flatwoods that, in places, is two miles wide.
Issue Date: 2001
Publisher: Illinois Dept. of Natural Resources
Series/Report: Critical Trends Assessment Program
Genre: Report (Grant or Annual)
Type: Text
Language: English
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2142/14429
Publication Status: published or submitted for publication
Rights Information: These documents are a product of the Illinois state scientific surveys and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, and has been selected and made available by the Institute of Natural Resource Sustainability, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. They are intended solely for noncommercial research and educational use, and proper attribution is requested.
Date Available in IDEALS: 2009-12-03
Identifier in Online Catalog: 4642263
OCLC Identifier: (OCoLC)ocm53182605
 

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