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Waterway Management Strategy Summary

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • Existing Conditions
    • Recreational Use of Waterways
    • Commercial Use of Waterways
  • Impacts of Waterways
    • Economic Impacts
    • Environmental Impacts
    • Social Impacts
  • Conclusions
  • Appendix
  • References

WaterwayThe waterways of Northeastern Illinois play a vital role in the economic, social, and environmental health of the region, as well as the quality of life of its citizens.

In addition to Lake Michigan, the larger of the region's waterways include the Fox River Chain O'Lakes, Calumet River, Chicago River, Des Plaines River, DuPage River, Kankakee River, Kishwaukee River, and Salt Creek. These waterways are fed and connected by a web of tributaries and historically significant canals. Some water bodies, such as the Calumet River and the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal are heavy commercial corridors that are host to international shipping trade. Other water bodies are national hubs of water recreation like the Fox River and Chain O'Lakes. Smaller meandering prairie rivers such as the DuPage, Kankakee, and Kishwaukee Rivers provide idyllic spots for passive uses such as canoeing, kayaking, and fishing.

Waterways management is inherently a regional issue, as waterways extend across federal, state, local, municipal, and private ownership boundaries, and multi- or concurrent regulatory authority. This strategy paper provides a general overview of the existing conditions of waterways in our region in terms of their use as recreational and commercial assets, and explores the potential impacts of implementing regional waterway management.

A sample of findings:

  • Our region boasts 2,000 miles of streams; 500 miles of which have been designated as a part of a regional water trail system
  • The Chicago Park District estimates that $87.8 million is generated annually by craft-related spending for boats in its Lake Michigan harbors
  • Our region has over 68 miles of accessible Lake Michigan shoreline, with abundant shorefishing opportunities, as well as charter boats and guide services

If you're interested in learning more about waterway management, please download the following CMAP strategy report. Comments and criticisms are encouraged.

Photo by Kristy Morimoto, submitted to CMAP's 2009 Images of Northeastern Illinois photo contest.

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