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Heidecke Lake access improvements

December 30, 2009 at 02:42 PM

MORRIS – The Illinois Department of Natural Resources today announced that thanks to the efforts of Midwest Generation, LLC, recreational access is being enhanced at the Heidecke Lake State Fish and Wildlife Area in Grundy Co. 

Midwest Generation installed protective rip rap around a dewatering structure on Heidecke Lake, reducing the need to significantly lower the lake water level during winter months to protect the structure from ice floes on the lake.  As a result of the project, water levels can be maintained that allow easy access to the popular lake for fishing and waterfowl hunting programs managed by the IDNR.

“Midwest Generation has always been a good partner in working with the Department to provide recreational opportunities in Illinois, and this project at Heidecke Lake is another example of the benefits of the company and the IDNR working together,” said IDNR Director Marc Miller. “Heidecke Lake State Fish and Wildlife Area is an incredibly important resource for fishing and hunting with its location close to the Chicago metropolitan area.”

Outdoor recreation enthusiasts, especially those who live in northern and northeastern Illinois, have made Heidecke Lake a destination for more than 30 years due to its reputation for outstanding fishing and waterfowl hunting opportunities. 

Heidecke Lake is a reservoir that provided cooling water for the former Collins Station generating plant.  The Collins Station was operated and later decommissioned by Midwest Generation.  The IDNR has leased valuable recreational land and water at Heidecke Lake since 1978 to allow public access to more than 1,300 acres of the lake for fishing and hunting. 

Because the Collins Station is no longer in operation, the three-and-one-half mile long reservoir is not fed with warm water.  As a perched impoundment, Heidecke Lake was designed specifically to catch the cooling effects of prevailing winds. 
Due to icing lake water, a lake dewatering (or blow down) structure used to control the water level in the lake was damaged by drifting ice in 2008. 

To protect the structure and preserve the recreational use of the lake, seasonal reductions of the water level in Heidecke Lake by nearly 30 inches were needed previously to protect the blow down structure from further damage. This reduction of water level created difficulty for waterfowl hunters due to reduced water depth at the boat launch.  It also required pumping to return the lake to normal depth for the fishing season. 

Employees of the Midwest Generation engineering and environmental staffs worked in collaboration with IDNR Land Management and Water Resources personnel to develop a solution that will permanently protect the blow down structure while retaining access to the lake for the sporting public.  Construction was completed this month on a protective “ice breaker” rip-rap stone reef that will prevent ice floes from reaching the blow down structure and eliminate the need to draw down the water level in the lake. 

“Heidecke Lake makes an important contribution to the quality of life in this state,” said John Kennedy, Midwest Generation’s vice president of Operations and Maintenance.  “We’re pleased we’ve been able to work with IDNR to make these improvements that benefit outdoor sportsmen and recreational enjoyment of the lake.”

Heidecke Lake State Fish and Wildlife Area is located approximately one mile south and eight miles east of Morris, between Ill. Rt. 47 and I-55 south of the Illinois River on Pine Bluff/Lorenzo Road.  The fishing season opens on or about April 1 and closes prior to waterfowl season.  For more information on the hunting program and other recreation opportunities at Heidecke Lake, contact the site office at 815/942-6352.

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