The Illinois River is a focal point of beauty, commerce, wildlife and recreational opportunity. But with all the demands placed on our shared resource, disconnects sometimes exist between local communities regarding the conservation and stewardship needed to maintain, support and preserve our rivers and wetlands.

With this in mind, several local conservation partners got together to form the Middle Illinois River Conservation Collaborative (MIRCC). Its purpose is to build a stronger, more active constituency for stewardship of the lands and waters of the Middle Illinois River. The process will create a mosaic of ecologically significant conservation sites that collectively represent the rich diversity of the Illinois River’s ecology.

By tying together eight to 12 sites through public education and conservation programming, the MIRCC hopes to grow the number of residents who understand and participate in local conservation action. This will help strengthen the capacity of local conservation partners to protect the system with limited resources through better education and coordination of programs.

Members of the MIRCC include the Peoria Audubon Society, Illinois Audubon Society, National Audubon Society – Great Lakes, Ducks Unlimited, The Nature Conservancy – Illinois, Prairie Rivers Network, Peoria Park District, Chillicothe Park District, Illinois Nature Preserves Commission and The Wetlands Initiative.

MIRCC partners have identified a series of protected areas that represent key habitat types of the Illinois River. Together, these sites demonstrate differences in habitat types that are noticeable to lay audiences, various stages of ecological restoration, and a diversity of connections to the Illinois River system.

Through the Illinois River Mosaic, a coordinator will work to establish public tours, connecting the sites by explaining why conservation is important to local communities and decision makers, and providing a mechanism to improve public education. The MIRCC will also support partners by recruiting people for volunteer workdays. By working together and coordinating our actions, we strengthen our collective capacity for sustaining and improving our wondrous resources.

For more information, contact the Prairie Rivers Network at [email protected] or (217) 344-2371. To learn more about the Peoria Audubon Society, visit peoriaaudubon.org. iBi