A wise person once said, “We can accomplish more and bigger things if we are not concerned who gets the credit.”
We are blessed in the outdoors community to have a lot of these folks who put their desires and needs behind the group as a whole. When we get to witness that firsthand and see it in action, it makes others want to join.
No one epitomizes “selfless” more than Jackie Kraft of the McLean County Soil, Water and Conservation District. She routinely makes things better and her work at our two local lakes, Lake Bloomington and Evergreen Lake, have had a significant impact on water quality and bank protection.
Though others such as Rick Twait, the Friends of EverBloom, the City of Bloomington, Craig Cummings and Bob Yehl, and the McLean County Parks, Mike Steffa and his staff, plus Mike Garthaus at the IDNR have been right beside her, she is the catalyst to get the ball rolling and, in my informed opinion, without her none of these projects would have gotten off the ground.
Jackie is a doer. She finds a dime when only a penny is available. She writes grants, finds matching funds and solicits donations plus designs, surveys and manages each project at the lakes. She comes by her hard work naturally.
Her predecessor, Jim Rutherford, cut a swath before her and showed her the ropes of working with land owners, farmers and municipalities to protect our rich farm ground and enhance our water quality.
Jackie spearheads stream management projects, bank restoration and filter strip projects in McLean County and has been integral in getting several major bank protection and wetlands projects completed at both of our lakes.
To the best of my knowledge, Jackie doesn’t fish often, but her work has made both habitat and water quality better for the fish and animals that call these lakes and associated watersheds home. The water is cleaner, takes less to treat and the rock serves as home to fish, reptiles and other aquatic species. That “serving others first” attitude is contagious.
The beauty of how Jackie leads is that it is by example and with her grittiness. Plus, not taking no for an answer makes others want to help. Jackie knows watersheds and knows how to manage a project, but more importantly she instills the desire in others to see the importance of our rich farm ground and water resources and the need to protect them.
Major bank restoration projects she has led include large expanses of riprap at Lake Bloomington on the north shore, several rip projects at Evergreen Lake and a watershed cleanup of one of major tributaries at Evergreen, T3, that provides filtering and habitat restoration. The side benefit to this project is a nature trail and overlook that she worked with McLean County Parks on establishing.
This past week another major project was completed on the east shoreline of Evergreen Lake where we were losing large chunks of bank and native trees. Those trees that had fallen were utilized in this project. Erosion causes more treatment issues for lake managers, but also this turbidity is not conducive for native fish that reside in the lakes during spring spawns. Another 1,040 feet of riprap now protects these shorelines around the picnic area at the lake.
Surveys are ongoing for more projects in our streams and lakes. Thank you Jackie Kraft for all you do. To get involved and learn more, join the Friends of EverBloom. I am sure Jackie could use your help.
High school tourney
The Friends of EverBloom Annual High School Tournament will be at Evergreen Lake on Oct. 7. Cost is $40 per team and you don’t have to be a member of your high school fishing team to participate, though teams are welcome, too. Contact Jerry Martoglio at 309-826-0930 for details.
The Central Illinois Crappie Club will hold the Clinton Lake Open Crappie Tournament on Saturday at Clinton Lake. Visit CentralIllinoisCrappieClub.com for details and family teams are invited.
Entry is $65 per boat. Fishing begins at 7:30 a.m. and ends at 2:30 p.m. It is open to the public.