"Private hunting clubs and, later, drainage and levee districts, built fences and levees in the bottomlands of the Illinois River and appropriated the right to hunt, fish and gather resources," Schneider said. "The legacy of the levee districts on the Illinois River has been twofold: the deterioration of the natural resources of the river and increased flooding. Draining wetlands behind the levee districts ... led to steep declines in the river's fish and waterfowl populations. The expanding number of levee districts on the Illinois River also led to increasing flood heights as the river was constrained to a narrower channel."
Today, Schneider sees signs indicating that the wake-up calls sent out
by the 1993 floods are being picked up. For instance, he cites the U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service's acquisition of the Thompson Lake Levee District
on the Illinois River. The area is being converted for use as a wildlife
refuge and recreation area, and, as a bonus, may even prove to be a boon
to the local economy, he said.