HAVANA, Ill.–Flooding is usually seen as a negative thing, and in most cases, it is. But when it comes to natural wildlife in the Illinois River, it can actually be seen as a positive thing.
“When it does flood like this, a lot of them are poised to take advantage of it. A lot of our nest building fish like large mouth bass, or blue gill or black crappie actually benefit from the high water like this when the river can spread out and actually access its flood plain,” said Large River Fisheries Ecologist Jason DeBoer.
“The flood plain is what fish use when they spawn, there’s all kinds of new resources that become inundated, all kinds of bugs and macro-invertabrates and food items that weren’t accessible before, that are accessible now,” said Associate Scientist at the Illinois Natural History Survey Levi Solomon.
Solomon says this is the perfect time for fish to flourish in floodwaters.
“All of fisheries’ life history is built on this flooding in the river. They respond historically, so it’s happening at the right time for them this year,” said Solomon.
Director of the Illinois River Biological Field State Jim Lamer says that he hopes the river levels go down quickly so his crews can get back onto the river to continue their research.”
“Without access to our facilities and our equipment, it’ll make it a little more difficult. And if the water becomes too high it’ll restrict access to boat ramps and not allow us to get out there and do our job,” said Lamer.
“We’ve had four major flooding events since 2013, historically they can be a really good thing. They connect the terrestial habitat with the aquatic habitat. So you’re bringing a lot of nutrients from the terrestial habitat and the aquatic habitat is providing areas for fish, for refuge, for nursery areas,” Lamer said.
The park in Havana along with the Nature Center is flooded on the riverfront. The Illinois Natural History Survey had to put up muscle walls and sand bags around its building just to keep the water out of its facility.
Scientists at the Illinois Natural History Survey say that it will be about two months before conditions allow them back on the river, but they will be able to continue their research nonetheless