Improving neighborhood environments: Working to find balance between nature and industry

The Will County Environmental Network continues to advocate for recreation and nature in the neighborhood.

The Network is working with the Will County Land Use Department & the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning on designed  improvements to the historic Brandon and Patterson Road areas.  Members will continue to provide assistance as the plan moves forward. The Network urges all residents in the area to look forward to a neighborhood meeting explaining the plan in more detail in the near future.


Everglades of the North: The Story of the Grand Kankakee Marsh

set for Saturday, October 21 at The Mar in downtown Wilmington  

Everglades of the North: The Story of the Grand Kankakee Marsh is a panoramic vision, detailing how once one of the largest freshwater marshes in North America impacted history and continues to influence lives and the ecology of the region today.

 The public is invited to attend a free screening of the film at 3 p.m., Saturday, October 21 at The Mar Theatre in downtown Wilmington.

The event is sponsored by the Will County Environmental Network:  “We are happy to bring this documentary to the public,” said Patricia Nugent, president.  “It is important to understand the history of the region’s environment and man’s impact on the ever-changing ecosystems of Illinois.”

The wetlands were once home to a myriad of species, a hunting ground that become known as New France, and as Chicago’s Food Pantry.  Only a small portion of the original marsh remains.

The event will feature questions and answers with one of four producers, Hersher native Tom Desch.

“We all got captivated by the story,”   Desch said of himself and the other producers, Jeff Manes of Lake Village, Indiana; Brian Kallies of Cedar Lake, Indiana; and Patricia Wisniewski of Valparaiso, Indiana.

“It’s a local story, but it had wider reaching implications. To discover the story of your own region is a wonderful thing,” Desch said.

“People like to tell the stories that they know, and local stories are the stories I know,” he said.   Desch is continuing work on The Field, a documentary about the proposed airport in Peotone.

Everglades of the North has been seen on PBS, and in select markets, as well as at film festivals. The historic Mar Theatre is as 121 South Main Street in downtown Wilmington.

Water Summit to focus on critical needs facing northeastern Illinois September 14

Resource Conservationist Neil Pellmann of the Will-South Cook Soil & Water Conservation District has no trouble explaining the crisis facing northeastern Illinois: “The most essential element for sustaining life is water. Having high quality water in sufficient supply is necessary for animals, plants, and humans.”

That one essential element for life is in short supply.  A water shortage threatens not in the coming centuries or in far off desert lands—but in the next years, in the heartland of Illinois.

Aquifers, the underground reservoirs that supply the region with fresh water, are drawing down at an alarming rate.  Walt Kelly, head of the Groundwater Section of the Illinois State Water Survey, identifies the urgency with which the region is faced: “The sandstone aquifers that provide drinking water to many communities and industries in southern and western suburbs of Chicago are declining rapidly.”

A Water Summit is slated for 6:30 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 14. “The goal is to learn more about the water supply and to explore the steps that residents, government officials, and water scientists can take to improve the long-range forecast,” Mary Baskerville of the Will County Environmental Network said. “All interested person are invited and encouraged to attend and learn about the challenges facing the region now and in the near future.”

Kelly will present the latest information about the water drawdown, including information about the study of the deep wells at the former Joliet

Army Ammunition Plant that are providing a daily record of water drawdown dating back to World War II.

“There are alternative water resources in the region, but it is imperative for at-risk entities to start planning now,” Kelly said.

­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­It is a situation of concern to many, including area farmers.  Even though Will County has seen significant growth and development, about 45 percent of its 540,000 acres is farmed, Will County Farm Bureau Manager Mark Schneidewind said.

Jim Robbins farms on a centennial farm in Manhattan Township, where his family has farmed since 1851. Today, that township and many in northeastern Illinois face a crisis. As chair of the Will-South Cook Soil & Water Conservation District, Robbins sees the impact: “Without water, what would we do as farmers?

“Water quality and quantity is an absolute necessity to grow crops;

thus, water is the lifeblood of agriculture,” Robbins said.

Pellmann will present information on the urban and agriculture conservation programs available through the Will South-Cook Soil and Water District.

“The need to understand better how development of one water resource affects the other is universal and will surely increase as development intensifies.” according to the United States Geological Survey publication “Ground Water and Surface Water A Single Resource.”

The Water Summit is jointly sponsored by the Will County Environmental Network and the Will-South Cook Soil & Water District. For additional information, interested persons may phone the Soil & Water District Office at 815/ 462-3106, extension 3. Reservations are encouraged, but not required. The Will-South Cook Soil and Water Conservation District is at 1201 South Gougar Road in New Lenox.


Archiving the past 35 years!

The Will County Environmental Network is working to archive its documents, stretching back to the founding of our grassroots organization in 1981.

The Network archives include important information about major developments in Joliet and Jackson Township, the redevelopment of the Joliet Army Ammunition Plant, and major environmental issues on the state and local level.

It is our hope that the documents and expert testimony will not only preserve the environmental record, but will also continue to  provide insights into issues facing the county today.

The committee has been a little overwhelmed with the amount of information that has been kept and is working on creating a digtal file.

Important historical documents will begin to appear here in the near future. 


Join members of the Network and area business and governmental leaders as we celebrate the plan to bring recreation and historical recognition to the Brandonand Patterson Road neighborhoods.


The day begins at 10:30 a.m., Saturday October 4 at Mt. Zion Church in Joliet.

Hear the details of the plan to develop recreational sites along the historic U.S. Route 66 corridor.

Learn more about the plans for a park opposite the Brandon Dam.


Join us for fellowship and discussion!

Network Meeting Slated for Monday

The Will County Environmental Network will meet at 6:30 p.m., Monday, July 21 at Laraway School in Joliet.

Agenda items include an update on the new CenterPoint Project, continuing concerns to recognize and protect the karst aquifer in the region, and the Route 53 Corridor Plan.

Anyone interested in working to protect and defend the environment is invited to attend. Please note the meeting will be held outdoors and participants need to bring a chair.