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A Resting Place for the Ducks: A Multidisciplinary Analysis of Floodplain Restoration of the Hennepin Levee District, Illinois

A Master's Project completed for the School of
Natural Resources & Environment, University of Michigan
Ching-Wen Cheng, Daniel G. Gaebel,
Janelle M. St. Pierre, Anna J. Willow
Advised by Professor Michael R. Moore
August 2001


The Hennepin Levee District (HLD) is a 2,500-acre levee-impounded floodplain along the Illinois River near the Village of Hennepin. Farmed since the early 1900s, the area has lost much of its original ecological functions. The Wetlands Initiative (TWI), formed in 1994 with the objective of restoring wetland resources in the Upper Mississippi River Basin and the Great Lakes Region for ecological and economic purposes, facilitated the purchase of the HLD, in 2001, as part of TWI's Changing the Course initiative. The goal of the initiative is to acquire and restore 25,000 riparian and floodplain acres in the Illinois River Basin. As a part of this effort, the HLD, once restored, may serve as wildlife habitat, improve water quality and provide a place of recreation for Hennepin residents and visitors to the area.

This study is a complement to TWI's research in the HLD. It addresses several topics not emphasized by TWI such as:

  • the ecological function and sustainability of the restored floodplain contingent upon the restoration design and the potential impacts of human recreation on the site;
  • the creation and implementation of floodplain-based environmental education;
  • the ability of the floodplain to removal excess nitrogen from the Illinois River Basin; and
  • the economic and political likelihood of using the floodplain to generate nitrogen pollution credits.

The greatest challenge (and ultimately the greatest strength) of this project was to combine the three disciplines of landscape architecture, environmental education and environmental policy. This multidisciplinary approach led us to examine the restoration on several different planes, thereby replacing several single-perspective analyses with one unified, holistic picture of floodplain restoration.

The project is available in PDF Format by individual chapters and subsections.

Executive Summary

Part I: Introduction

Part II: Background

Part III: Analysis

Part IV: Proposed Restoration Plan

Part V: Conclusions and Recommendations



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