Friends of the Fox River is pleased to announce that on Tuesday, April 13, the citizens of Dundee Township voted to add a referendum to future ballots regarding the proposed Longmeadow Toll Bridge.
The bridge proposed to cross the Fox River for the Long Meadow Parkway could cause a severe disruption and destruction of habitat. It would be difficult to find a more sensitive area to build a bridge. The western shore of the bridge corridor has an oak savanna, which is one of the rarest ecotypes in the world, due to deforestation. The savanna is irreplaceable, due to the extreme age of the native white and Bur oaks. The area also has several fens, which are wetlands created by high calcium water seeping to the surface; these fens allow a unique plant community to grow, of which some are are state endangered or threatened species. Forested flood plain is located on the eastern shore. This area is habitat for furbearing animals, reptiles, amphibians and birds.
Placement of bridging structures and roadway in this area could cause disruption in the heavily forested corridor that is used by local wildlife. Construction and maintenance of the bridge could cause the habitat to be fractured which will disrupt wildlife movements in the area. Clearing of the trees to construct the bridge will open up the canopy of the area which will cause a shift in plant species giving an advantage to invasive species of plants.
The bridge will cross the Brunner Family Forest Preserve. The forest preserve is proposed for prairie restoration in what is now farm field. The bridge and roadway will significantly reduce the area available for this restoration. Storm water run off can damage or kill sensitive prairie plants.
The storm water from the bridge will have an impact on aquatic species in the river. Oil and gas contained in the run off from the bridge can disrupt Smallmouth Bass spawning down stream of the bridge. The run off can kill eggs and fry if it occurs during the spawning season. Construction activities could also destroy the spawning area if the riverbank is changed or disrupted and the current flow or direction is changed in the area. Habitat for other fish species will also be altered by bridge pilings and changes in the riverbank and riverbed.
Freshwater mussel species would be killed by construction activities on the river bed and by changes in current and water flow. Many mussels are state and federal threatened and endangered species.
The resident and migratory bird species make heavy use of this corridor. It is a rearing area for the state endangered black-crowned night-heron. The oak trees are used as a roosting site for egrets, herons, turkey vultures and bald eagles. Recently bald eagles have built nests within a half-mile of the bridge corridor. The bridge would disrupt or halt their breeding activities. The Fox River is a significant pathway for migratory birds; fracturing the habitat will reduce feeding and resting areas for these species.
The construction of the bridge and roadway could disrupt and destroy one off the most environmentally sensitive and unique areas on the Fox River. The negative impact on plants, fish, birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, mussels and water quality will be devastating to this beautiful and environmentally important area.