ILLINOIS CITY, Illinois -- Construction on a portion of Loud Thunder Road has presented a unique opportunity to clean up Lake George and install new fish habitats.
While crews work on improving the dam and spillway at the lake, officials have drawn down the lake by 16 feet.
With the lake beds dry, Loud Thunder Forest Preserve superintendent Ben Mills has called for volunteers to help clear the lake of decades of trash.
"What we're trying to do is get as much bang for the buck as we can," Mills said. "We've identified lots and lots of garbage. In the form of cellphones, batteries, boat anchors, a lot of lures, a lot of bottle trash and can trash out on the lake."
Meanwhile, Mills has teamed up with an Illinois fish biologist to improve conditions for fish at the lake.
It's stocked with muskies, crappies, catfish, bass and bluegill. But the big fish have nowhere to prowl, and the little fish have nowhere to hide.
Fish biologist David Wyffels said a mix of materials would benefit the fish population.
"The crappie fishermen like plastic structures; it doesn’t allow their hooks to hang up," he said. "As a fisheries biologist, we like to use natural material because it produces algal growth for small fish."
For the next several weeks, new fish habitats will be introduced to Lake George before it fills back up to its normal level in the first half of next year.
"We’re kind of hoping for some good snows and good rains in the spring, to bring this back up," said Mills. "And then we can get our boat rental operation up and running and folks can come on out and enjoy the lake."