Pipeline construction will lead to improved Izaak Walton ecosystem, preserve's president says 

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Pipeline construction will lead to improved Izaak Walton ecosystem, preserve's president says 

March 15, 2021 - 20:59
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A pipeline for a new water source for the village of Homewood is cutting through the Izaak Walton Preserve, but John Brinkman, the president of Izaak Walton, said the pipeline ultimately will improve the ecosystem.

Railroad right-of-way in Izaak Walton Nature Preserve where the pipeline will be installed as part of Homewood's move to a new source of water. (Nick Ulanowski/H-F Chronicle)

Railroad right-of-way in Izaak Walton Nature Preserve where the pipeline will be installed as part of Homewood's move to a new source of water. (Nick Ulanowski/H-F Chronicle)

The preserve is using the construction project as an opportunity to remove invasive vegetation and replace it with native vegetation. 

“When [construction is] done, we’re going to get some seeds as part of the project cost. And that will allow us to seed more desirable vegetation over the pipeline,” said Brinkman. In other words, there will be more native grasses, bushes, trees and sedge after this project is finished.

The U.S Department of Agriculture defines invasive vegetation as “a plant that is both non-native and able to establish on many sites, grow quickly, and spread to the point of disrupting plant communities or ecosystems.” 

According to Brinkman, “there’s probably invasive vegetation in your backyard.”

The pipeline disturbance “to valuable, natural trees and vegetation is very minimal to the preserve," Brinkman said. "There were maybe 25 trees along the entire length of the railroad right-of-way that we marked to save. They went around those and saved them for us,” said Brinkman. “The animals, because they have feet and they can walk around, they will just avoid this.”

The only exception to this plan is the far western end of the preserve where, instead of digging a trench, contractors will dig underneath the Homewood prairie in a process called “jackboring.” This is to avoid disturbing the wildlife, especially the “very long roots” of its native plant life, Brinkman said.   

“There will be occasional trail closures and they will be marked as necessary,” said Brinkman. “We think those inconveniences to trails and whatnot will be short lived.”

On a recent Thursday afternoon, Jim Boehner was fishing at the lake. Boehner said he’s been a member of Izaak Walton for about 30 years. As he spoke, the sound of geese could be heard honking nearby.

“They were very careful to post it on the website and to let members know that this was in the works for quite some time. So, it wasn’t a surprise by any means,” said Boehner.

Boehner said the construction of the pipeline hasn’t interfered with his fishing or others who use the preserve to hike or walk their dogs. He said there are multiple bodies of water where he can fish, and it’s easy to avoid the “chipping” sound of the construction workers.

“I think they’ve done a good job over the years trying to control the invasive vegetation. The lake’s constantly been improved over the years,” said Boehner. “[The water] is really clear. I can see out ten feet deep.” 

Brinkman said the pipeline should be finished by “late fall” of 2021 and the planting of new vegetation should be finished before the end of 2022.