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Chain O’ Lakes Crews Secure ‘Floating Island’

June 18, 2008

By Susan Kuczka, Chicago Tribune

Jun. 18–Fox Waterway Agency workers temporarily staked three massive floating bogs to the Grass Lake shoreline Tuesday, preventing a potentially dangerous backup of floodwater from the Fox River. The bogs had broken off from the Chain O’ Lakes State Park and Conservation Area.

“The thing is huge,” said Ingrid Ruttendjie, the agency’s executive director, after taking a boat tour of the land mass that had plugged the channel connecting Glass Lake and Lake Marie.

The “floating island,” as agency workers called it, actually was made up of at least three smaller bogs totaling roughly 12 acres. The bogs are chunks of wetland formed by cattails and other aquatic vegetation not firmly rooted to the lake bed. Fast moving floodwaters, like those seen on the Chain in recent days, often cause the land masses to break free, officials said.

With floodwaters on the Chain expected to crest as early as Wednesday, agency officials worked furiously Tuesday to secure the bogs, using grappling hooks to catch hold of the bogs and more than a half-dozen boats to push them to the Grass Lake shoreline, said Ron Barker, the agency’s director of operations.

“There’s nothing stopping the flow of the river now,” Barker said after leading the effort to secure the bogs for more than seven hours. The bogs ultimately were hammered into place with large wooden stakes.

Workers plan to be back in action Wednesday to clear smaller bogs and other debris from the popular recreation area. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources on Sunday closed the Chain to boaters indefinitely, citing the danger posed by tree limbs, picnic tables and other debris floating in the Chain because of the flooding.

skuczka@tribune.com

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