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White Oak Over the Mackinaw River

White Oak Over the Mackinaw River

This white oak tree is at the very edge of the steep river bluff. The meandering Mackinaw River changes direction just below the bluff, which forms the foundation for the tree, on the outside of a curve. One day the balance may shift in favor of gravity, as the river erodes the base of the bluff, and the oak may fall. Photo by J.A. Lerczak.


Long Island Chute, Mississippi River

Long Island Chute, Mississippi River

Long Island Chute is a side channel of the Mississippi River. Long Island, located just north of Quincy, Illinois, is about 8 miles long and 1.5 miles in width at its widest point. It is part of the Great River National Wildlife Refuge.


Ohio River in Flood

Ohio River in Flood

Photographed from a high cliff at Cave-in-Rock State Park, Illinois.


Missouri River Valley

Missouri River Valley

The Missouri River along this stretch looks much as it did when the Lewis and Clark Expedition traveled through just over 200 years ago.


Middle Mississippi River

Middle Mississippi River

Wing dams (perpendicular structures projecting from the river's banks) and a towboat-barge can be seen in this photograph. Illinois' Shawnee Hills are visible in the distance.


Mouth of the Spoon River, Illinois

Mouth of the Spoon River, Illinois

The Spoon River, after passing through the Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge, empties into the Illinois River opposite the town of Havana.


Fort Peck Lake on the Missouri River

Fort Peck Lake on the Missouri River

The Missouri River from northeastern Nebraska through South Dakota, North Dakota, and eastern Montana is composed of a series of large reservoirs alternating with relatively natural stretches of river. This photograph was taken on the top of the Fort Peck Dam, looking westward toward the reservoir called Fort Peck Lake. The original river and its floodplain are obviously below many feet of water.


Fox River

Fox River

The Fox River and its riparian forests provide an important corridor of wildlife habitat through northeastern Illinois, an area that has been experiencing rapid, widespread suburban development for many decades. This photograph was taken in the 1980s.


Kankakee River

Kankakee River

Limestone outcroppings at Kankakee River State Park. Even in the late 1970s, the Kankakee River, in northeastern Illinois south of the Chicago area, was widely known to be a "clean" river with a healthy fish population.


Little Missouri River

Little Missouri River

The Little Missouri River, a tributary of the Missouri River, as it flows through Theodore Roosevelt National Park. The park has a large federally designated Wilderness Area, a free-roaming herd of American bison, prairie dog towns, and many other characteristics of what is commonly thought of as "the West."


Current River Morning

Current River Morning

Night temperatures along the Current River dropped below freezing, but on this October day at the Aker's Ferry Campground, the morning sun rapidly warmed the air and cleared away the mists. An overnight canoe trip followed, with perfect weather and gravel bar camping.


Spoon River Summer

Spoon River Summer

Spoon River at the Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge, near Illinois Route 78.


Mackinaw River

Mackinaw River

The Mackinaw River is running swift and turbid as a result of recent heavy spring rains. By mid-summer, the water level will have dropped considerably, and the river's gravel-cobble bottom will be visible, with larger boulders forming occasional small rapids.


Vermilion River Rapids, February 12, 2009

Vermilion River Rapids, February 12, 2009

During lower water levels, the submerged boulders causing these rapids would emerge far above the water's surface. Other, smaller boulders would also be partially above water causing additional turbulence and more white caps. Over the years, the swift-moving water has cut into the bluffs (visible on the right side of the photograph) as the Vermillion River abruptly changes direction, resulting in a near vertical drop on the bluff side.


Vermilion River High Water

Vermilion River High Water

On February 12, 2009, the Vermilion River, a tributary of the upper Illinois River, flowed fast and high from recent precipitation and snow melt. Its turbidity results from soil erosion, a seemingly intractable problem, across the watershed.


Great Blue Heron on a Sawyer

Great Blue Heron on a Sawyer

The tree branch points in the direction of current flow on the Spoon River at Emiquon National Willdife Refuge. If the current is swift, the branch, called a "sawyer," may move up and down.


Spoon River at Harper-Rector Woods Nature Preserve

Spoon River at Harper-Rector Woods Nature Preserve

An unusual bedrock outcropping along the Spoon River at Harper-Rector Woods Nature Preserve, Fulton County, Illinois.


The Early Autumn Mackinaw River

The Early Autumn Mackinaw River

The Mackinaw River at Chinquapin Bluffs Land and Water Reserve, Woodford County. A gravel-cobble bottom is a notable feature of this river.