Rock River Trail receives Environmental Grant to support new visitor information center

The Rock River Trail is pleased to announce we have received a 2019 Environmental Grant in partnership with Nature At The Confluence from Illinois American Water to support a new Rock River Trail visitor information center at Nature At The Confluence, which is located at the half-way point on the trail in South Beloit, IL. Grant funds will be used to create learning features such as an exterior interpretive sign and an interior display through which visitors will learn about the watershed and the importance of water stewardship and habitat restoration.

New Rock River Birding Trail to be established

Work on a new Rock River Birding Trail will also be started in May 2019 on a 7.5 acre section of the 100 acre Nature At The Confluence (NATC) campus that has never been accessible before. The Rock River is an important flyway during the spring and fall migration as millions of birds use the river for their migration path. In 2018 we established the Rock River Birding trail to highlight ideal birding locations along the whole river and the importance of the preservation/restoration of bird habitat. This project will be a wonderful habitat restoration teaching tool. Swamp oak saplings from our annual oak tree distribution will be planted to enhance the habitat.

As part of the trail work we will clean up garbage from Kelly Creek and the Rock River bottomland. The 7.5 acre bottomland is overgrown with invasive Reed Canary Grass, which makes it almost impenetrable in summer and fall, making cleanups almost impossible. It is heavily impacted by garbage left behind by previous homeless encampments and from debris snagged from flow from Turtle Creek and the Rock River during flood periods.

Kelly Creek daylights on the NATC property, and is a natural spring co-mingled with storm water runoff from South Beloit, and flows directly into the Rock River. Kelly Creek continually is impacted by garbage flushed through the storm sewers and is trapped by fallen trees. We want to keep this garbage from entering the Rock River watershed.

By cleaning up this area and developing a trail, our goal is to give the community access to a beautiful part of the Rock River that was never accessible before.