Environmental Defenders of McHenry County

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Watershed Planning in the Fox River Basin
Silver and Sleepy Hollow Creek Watersheds

The Silver and Sleepy Hollow Creeks Watershed Coalition

Contact the Defenders at mcdef@owc.net or 815-338-0393 to get involved!

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Beginning in 2010, community members have gathered in Crystal Lake to discuss new opportunities to address water resource protections in eastern McHenry County. Local residents, community leaders, non-profit organizations, representatives of local governments,  businesses and others discussed priorities for protecting streams, lakes, groundwater and other natural resources.

Community members have been meeting to identify priority goals and to develop plans designed to protect water resources in the Silver Creek and Sleepy Hollow Creek watersheds of eastern McHenry County.

This "watershed planning" process is a comprehensive, community supported approach to improving water quality, considering groundwater protection, and restoring healthy aquatic communities on a watershed basis. Watershed planning provides opportunities for community members from multiple jurisdictions to work together and develop solutions to shared water resource challenges.  

A plan has been developed for each watershed. The Silver Creek and Sleepy Hollow Creek watersheds are home to significant natural resources including dedicated Illinois Nature Preserves, rare fens, and several lakes enjoyed by community members as a source of recreation.

The Defenders and other participating organizations are working with local community members to implement the watershed plans that consider local priorities and concerns. If you live, work, or play in the Silver Creek or Sleepy Hollow Creek watersheds, please consider attending a meeting.


Click HERE to view the plan.

What is a Watershed?

A watershed is an area of land that drains water into a common receiving body or outlet such as a stream. Watershed boundaries are defined by nature and are largely determined by the topography or "lay of the land."

Where Are the Watersheds?

Sleepy Hollow Creek Watershed
(Includes Sleepy Hollow Creek and one other Fox River tributary stream)


Silver Creek Watershed
(Includes Silver Creek and other
Fox River tributary streams)


Communities within the planning areas include Oakwood Hills, Prairie Grove, and portions of Bull Valley, Cary, Crystal Lake, and McHenry. 

Portions of Nunda Township, Algonquin Township and unincorporated McHenry County are also within the planning areas.

Community Members discuss watershed planning priorities.
First Planning Meeting in 2010
at Prairieview Education Center, Crystal Lake
Silver Lake
Silver Creek Watershed

Veteran Acres Park
Sleepy Hollow Creek Watershed
Learn More

Watershed Planning
Watershed planning provides opportunities for communities to work together, share information, and target limited finanical resources to address common water resource protection challenges.
These challenges can include improving stream and lake water quality, preserving and protecting groundwater resources, managing stormwater, reducing soil erosion and flood damage, conserving open space, protecting wildlife habitat, providing safe lake and stream recreational opportunities, supporting opportunities for economic development, preserving prime farmland, and other issues of concern.  Watershed planning addresses these shared community concerns in ways that more closely match the natural flow of water.

Benefits of Watershed Planning
Watershed planning efforts can help raise public awareness and support for local sustainability initiatives.  Watershed-based plans are being developed throughout Illinois and elsewhere in the country to address nonpoint-source pollution prevention and water resource protection needs.

One purpose of this collaborative effort is to identify priority projects to improve water quality.  Projects identified in these plans can be become eligible for state and federal grants, including Clean Water Act, Section 319 nonpoint source pollution control grant funding.

Project Background Information
These planning projects are funded by Section 604(b) of the Clean Water Act by way of a grant from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, Bureau of Water, to the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP).  Watershed planning oversight is the responsibility of CMAP under a master agreement with the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA). CMAP is the delegated authority for the region’s areawide water quality management plan. The Environmental Defenders of McHenry County (EDMC) and the Fox River Ecosystem Partnership (FREP) are partners in the planning process and have received grants from CMAP to provide watershed coordination and community outreach. The Fox River Study Group is also involved because the hydrologic and water quality simulation models being developed for them by the Illinois State Water Survey will be used to estimate watershed-pollutant loads. The watershed plans are to be completed by December 31, 2011.

Watershed plans funded by the CWA must meet criteria established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. This planning process will follow the Guidance for Developing Watershed Action Plans in Illinois, created by CMAP and IEPA. Additionally, this plan will work to address newer regional planning criteria including groundwater protection strategies.

The Fox River Watershed
The Silver Creek and Sleepy Hollow Creek watersheds are part of the larger Fox River watershed.  The Fox River is an important source of drinking water, community recreation and wildlife habitat. The Fox River watershed is a significant recreational resource and home to 150 state-threatened and endangered species in the region. However, Fox River water quality has been impaired by activities that have not adequately protected the rich natural resources of the watershed. Working to protect the Silver Creek and Sleepy Hollow Creek watersheds will support local communities and help to restore the health of the Fox River.



Environmental Defenders of McHenry County, 110 South Johnson Street, Suite 106, Woodstock, Illinois 60098
815-338-0393  mcdef@owc.net