The Fox is also a stream under siege. For although its water quality is improving, the Fox valley has been engulfed by the land-hungry, sprawling Chicago metropolitan area. Today, riverboat casinos sit along the banks of the Fox, and the leading edge of Chicago's swelling urban development lies along Chicago's outer belt railway system amongst the ring of manufacturing suburbs that line the river. Formerly distinct suburbs such as Elgin and Aurora are now being overwhelmed by intense development as more and more farmland is converted to suburban uses and the metropolitan region spreads relentlessly outward.
The Fox has recently been listed among the 10 most endangered rivers in America despite improving water quality. This is due to increasing threat from its many dams and from rapidly increasing sewage and sediment loads as development surges along its course. Dams are now understood to destroy stream health, and they create dangerous conditions that have led to many deaths by drowning. It now seems likely that despite their picturesque character and their role in local history, all 15 Fox River dams will eventually be removed. These measures and active citizen oversight seem likely to restore the Fox to its former glory.
Husar, John. “Scientists' Crusade against Dams Hits Close to Home.” Chicago Tribune, March 2, 1999.
The Riverine. Newsletter for the Lower Fox River coalition. Lisle, IL.
Vierling, Philip E. Illinois Country Canoe Trails [Guidebook Number Two]. 2nd ed. 1994.
The Electronic Encyclopedia of Chicago © 2005 Chicago Historical Society.
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