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Pilot Project to Reduce Shoreline Erosion at Illinois Beach State Park

aerial view of a barge dropping stones into shallow water
Placing stone near the shoreline to improve coastal resilience. Credit: University of Pennsylvania.

A GLRI-funded project that aims to reduce shore erosion and nearshore habitat loss is nearing the halfway point. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Chicago District is conducting the pilot project in Illinois Beach State Park in Zion, Illinois. This construction project will field test innovative rubble ridge coastal infrastructure. A rubble ridge is a barrier made of stones placed underwater near a shoreline, meant to slow the energy of waves before they reach the shore. If it is effective, this technology could be implemented elsewhere in the Great Lakes to improve coastal resilience.

USACE procured the necessary stone for construction and is placing it using their Kewaunee, Wisconsin-based crane barge and floating plant crew. The construction was designed by Healthy Port Futures, a collaborative co-led by the State University of New York Buffalo and Cornell University through a Great Lakes Protection Fund grant.

Stone placement began in June 2021 and will continue through early August. Once complete, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources will monitor the effectiveness of this pilot project to evaluate the feasibility of implementing this technology at other locations throughout the Great Lakes.

USACE Chicago District Facebook post about the project

Kewaunee, WI floating plant used to place stone along the Illinois Beach State Park shoreline. Credit: University of Pennsylvania.