About 30,000 people depend on Kinkaid Lake for drinking water. Yet, soil erosion within the watershed and along the lakeis dumping thousands of tons of sediment — enough to fill more than 2,200 dump trucks — into the lake each year.
“These sediments reduce water quality,” said Scott Martin, whose work as a soil conservationist with Natural Resources Conservation Service revealed that seven miles of the lake’s shore was receding more than one foot each year.
The lake restoration is a cooperative effort between U.S Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service and Natural Resources Conservation Service, Environmental Protection Agency, Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Jackson County Board, Jackson County Soil and Water Conservation District, Kinkaid Area Watershed Project, Kinkaid-Reed’s Creek Conservancy District and Shawnee Resource Conservation and Development Area.
“The siltation and water quality issues of Kinkaid Lake have been identified as one of the greatest resource concerns of the citizens of Jackson County,” said Chris Mohrman, chairman of the Jackson County Soil and Water Conservation District. “Since implementing the shoreline stabilization practices on the lake, we have seen a dramatic improvement in water quality.”
The 2,350-acre Kinkaid Lake is located in Jackson County and west of Murphysboro, Illinois. The lake’s watershed spans 38,500 acres— or about 60 square miles.It provides about 2.1 million gallons of water per day to 11 communities.
“Most of the sediment coming into the lake is from rainwater that lifts soil and transports it downstream. It creates gullies and erodes stream banks,” said Matthew Lechner, natural resources program manager for Shawnee National Forest. “An additional source of erosion is the lake’s shore, which is battered by waves from boats and wind.”
Shawnee National Forest, which encompasses 25 percent of the lake’s watershed, was forced to close Johnson Creek Beach because silt made it unusable. To help improve the health of the lake, the forest is spending $435,000 to stabilize the shore and streambanks and improve habitat through the use of prescribed fire. Another $120,000 is being spent to better understand erosion on Forest Service lands so that a plan can be developed to manage its streams.
About 62 percent of the lake’s watershed is owned by private landowners, which makes Natural Resources Conservation Service a critical partner in the lake’s restoration. NRCS is working with these landowners to implement best practices, such as grassy waterways, through its Environmental Quality Incentives Program. In all, the agency has invested $544,500 in this project.
Together, these collaborative efforts will restore health to the lake by improving water quality and wildlife habitat. Further, less sediment means more capacity in the lake to hold drinking water, which is good news for local residents who depend on its water.
“Kinkaid Area Watershed Project is a private, not for profit, corporation with the purpose of maintaining and improving water quality in Kinkaid Lake,” said its president Lou Strack, noting that the project has more than 100 members. “We were formed in 1998 in response to the fact that Kinkaid Lake was experiencing problems, especially with sedimentation.”
Kinkaid Lake was formed in 1972 with the creation of the 980-foot-long Crissenberry Dam, which is owned by Illinois Department of Natural Resources. In addition to being a source of drinking water, the lake is a tourist destination, with thousands of people coming to the 14 fishing tournaments held each year. In addition to fishing, people enjoy camping and boating on the lake. Kinkaid Marina, located in Murphysboro, Ill., has 200 boat slips and can accommodate an additional 40 to 60 boats daily. The Port of Ava Marina, located on the north side of the lake,was forced to close due to silt.
About Shawnee National Forest
Administered by the USDA Forest Service, Shawnee National Forest is one of 155 national forests nationwide.As the only national forest in Illinois, the Shawnee offers numerous avenues for connecting with the natural world through its 280,000 acres of varied landscape. Whether your interests lie more in outdoor recreational activities, such as hiking or camping, or include learning about the unique natural and cultural heritage of southern Illinois, the fields, forests and streams of the Shawnee welcome you. To discover more about the Shawnee National Forest, visit https://www.fs.usda.gov/shawnee. Follow us on Twitter at https://twitter.com/shawneenf and Facebook via https://www.facebook.com/shawneenatlforest.