The Cedar Lake Enhancement Association (CLEA) is a grassroots organization started in 1996 for the purpose of enhancing the water quality and clarity of Cedar Lake. CLEA has worked towards this end by preparing grant applications, hosting fundraiser events, and donating hours of labor on ecosystem protection projects.
Restore Littoral Currents & Nutrient Cycling:
This objective seeks to naturalize the littoral currents and nutrient cycling feedback components. It is well documented that these two parameters are adversely affecting how the littoral currents and nutrient cycling influence the habitat structure of Cedar Lake. One is the absence of aquatic macrophyte beds, both emergent and submergent, which would attenuate wave and current action indicative of a healthy glacial lake. The second is the presence of vast amounts of silts and clays that unnatural to the system and are continually resuspended by littoral currents, natural wave action, recreational boating, and non-native benthivorous fishes.
Increase Spatial Coverage of Viable In-Lake Habitat
This objective seeks to increase the area of viable fringe, littoral zone and bathypelagic habitat within Cedar Lake. It is documented that little to no submergent and emergent aquatic macrophyte beds currently exist in Cedar Lake. It is also well documented that substrates within the deep littoral and bathypelagic zone are not physically or chemically suitable for aquatic macrophytes, macroinvertebrates and subsequently native fishes. Based on the existing percentages of cover for these habitat types, this objective targets an increase of about 25 acres of emergent fringe wetland, 50 acres of aquatic macrophyte bed, and about 400 acres of deep littoral and bathypelagic zone.
Eradicate/Control Non-Native Species
This objective seeks to remove or ease the adverse impacts of non-native and invasive species, particularly common carp and white perch. Typically, invasive species gain a foot hold and eventually dominate a site due to previous impairments placed on the site, particularly to hydrology, hydraulics or geophysical properties of soils and substrates. Once a site’s physical parameters are repaired, then invasive plant and animal species may be addressed quite effectively, especially if recolonization routes are not available. It is not uncommon to keep invasive plant and animal species to a minimum or less than 1% of the site’s spatial coverage or relative abundance.
Reestablish Fish Passage/Recolonization
This objective seeks to allow the recolonization of fish species from former source populations that are now impeded. It is well documented that habitat fragmentation leads to many ecological and biological problems such as inbreeding, sink populations, food chain collapse, road kill, etc. This phenomenon is quite apparent in Cedar Lake. Past intentional and unintentional manipulations of the native fish assemblage have caused native species richness to be reduced by 54% and relative abundance by 90%. The major recolonization portal was Cedar Creek which formerly flowed unimpeded to the Kankakee River, but was dammed off. Cedar Creek is also fragmented again by Lake Dalecaria and is quite degraded in terms of habitat; thusly the former recolonization portal may never be restored. The Cedar Lake outlet structure however, currently prevents additional common carp from entering the lake from Lake Dalecaria. Based on the existing dominance of non-native fishes, the absence of a glacial lake fish assemblage, and the absence of a natural colonization portal, this objective targets to increase native glacial lake fish species richness to at least 25 and overall abundance of native fishes to at least 2,000 (gizzard shad abundance should be decreased even though it’s a native species).
Increase Cedar Lake’s Biodiversity
This objective seeks to increase biodiversity or the total native species richness, abundance, and population(s) health of the Cedar Lake ecosystem. Currently, the number of native species alone within Cedar Lake is diminutive of what naturally once occurred. To compound the matter, the abundance and health of these species/populations that still exist are dramatically impaired. Once physical and biological resource problems are repaired, the lake would have the potential to provide life requisites for thousands of native fungi, plant, insect, fish, amphibian, reptile, bird, and mammal species. Biodiversity changes would be apparent and easily measured through species richness and abundance. It is expected, based on previous restoration projects that have been implemented, that once minimal physical repairs are made, species start to colonize the site as soon as the impairments are disabled; immediate recolonization of birds and crayfish have resulted through the disablement of drain tiles under several completed restoration projects. This objective would be measured by comparing past data sets of Cedar Lake floral and fauna inventories with new inventory data during the monitoring phase of this project. This would be a good opportunity for a before and after bioblitz.