On April 13, 2003, approximately 12,000 gallons of 28% nitrogen solution was released from an above-ground storage tank located on the Ehnle Farm in Bradford, IL The release entered a field tile system and discharged into an unnamed tributary of the East Fork of the Spoon River. The aforementioned solution adversely affected 7.62 miles of the East Fork and 15.41 miles of the Spoon River, killing an estimated 132,224 fish along with other aquatic life. Habitats impacted by the release included surface water, streambed, shoreline and riparian corridors. The fish kill investigation was conducted by IDNR Fisheries from April 17-22, 2003.
A natural resource damage assessment estimate was made by the Trustees for the purpose of estimating injury amounts and planning for restoration. The matter was settled in January of 2009. Trustees are working together in the restoration planning and implementation processes to seek recovery for damages to natural resources. Two projects are being sought to provide compensation for the lost resources, which include: farm conservation practices such as buffer strips and a wildlife habitat area; and an in-stream restoration project in the Spoon River.
The on farm conservation practices are being implemented and should be fully functional in 2013/2014. In-stream restoration is in the planning stages. The in-stream restoration project consists of providing streambank protection and increasing in-stream habitat for aquatic life such as fish. However, the in-stream restoration project location is upstream of a bridge slated for reconstruction. The Trustees are coordinating with staff from the Illinois Department of Transportation to further protect and enhance the stream upstream of the bridge. Development of a restoration plan is ongoing and public comment will be sought during this planning process
Monitoring efforts, including fish surveys and gathering pre-restoration data at the proposed in-stream project location, are ongoing to monitor the long-term effects of the conservation practices on stream resources.