DECATUR — The state is updating its floodplain maps, and the Macon County Conservation District is part of the process.

The conservation district board of trustees held its first meeting of the year Wednesday, and Paul Marien, operations manager for the district, discussed work being done by the Illinois State Water Survey to modernize.

Marien said flood insurance risk rates have the potential to decrease as the water survey updates and digitizes its maps for the first time in some areas since the 1980s. The difference between water levels found on the maps compared to the actual floodplain has been up to 3 feet in some cases.

“It’ll outline in more specific way where you shouldn’t develop areas,” Marien said. The more accurate maps would reduce risk and prevent people from developing on flood-prone areas. Marien pointed out that sludge is being removed from two sewage lagoons on district property so it can be restored, which will alter its floodplains.

“We try to determine where floodplains are at all the time,” Marien said.

Kathy Merner, executive director of the district, said construction for a highway bypass bridge will cut into three acres of the Sand Creek Conservation Area. In response to the loss of that land, 10 acres on a newly donated piece of property in South Macon Township on Riley Road will be mitigated.

“If you impact those areas, they have to mitigate,” Merner said. Mitigation is the process of restoring land to its natural state, which in this case will be a wetland area.

Merner said that she continues to follow the progress of the new Ameren transmission lines to ensure they do not cross into district property. The original map had power cables cutting into conservation land. However, by law they cannot because land owned by the district is not subject to eminent domain. The district filed a brief, and the route has been altered.

Marien also reported that the number of deer harvested from the archery hunting program which ended in December were down.

“They’ve been consistently going down since 2011,” Marien said.

Those lower numbers are similar to state reports, and Marien said an outbreak of epizootic hemorrhagic disease, EHD, among the white-tail deer population may be the cause.

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