The Fox River of Illinois—not to be confused with the Fox River of central Wisconsin—arises in southern Wisconsin in a lake basin about 15 miles northwest of Milwaukee. From this point, the Fox flows southward for over 200 miles (114 miles in Illinois) and drops 470 vertical feet to reach its confluence with the Illinois River. As the Fox enters Illinois, it passes through Illinois’ Chain o’ Lakes and then meanders southward through Lake, McHenry, Kane, Kendall and LaSalle Counties.
The Fox River is a major waterway with many small islands. Its steep valley has an average gradient of 3.6 feet per mile, and its strong flow made the stream a good source for industrial waterpower. This led to early industrial development with many dams and mills built on the stream. Now most of the old mill dams are gone, but they have been replaced by hydroelectric, flood control, and navigation dams.
The Fox River Ecosystem Partnership (FREP) was formed in 1996 after the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) designated a core of high-quality ecological resources in the northern-most watershed as a “Resource Rich Area”. Portions of eleven counties, including Lake, McHenry, Kane, Kendall and LaSalle, form the Fox River watershed, which is home to 11% of the state’s population.
FREP has joined with the Southeast Wisconsin Fox River Partnership and the Village of Waterford, Wisconsin, to pursue the designation of all or portions of the Fox River in Wisconsin and Illinois as a National Water Trail through the National Park Services’ National Water Trail System. Technical assistance from the NPS Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program has been awarded and planning is now proceeding.
Volunteers are needed to submit information about paddling the river, historic information, and more.
Contact Karen Miller firstname.lastname@example.org for more details