Quarry To Lakes


Our high school alumni group have been discussing the impact of sand and gravel quarries. Some people feel that they are a terrible land use and should be prohibited. Concerns about pollution, noise, dust, and trucks are a real consideration.  

The aerial photo above is of Utica, Illinois just north of the Illinois River and the Starved Rock State Park.  It is a lovely little community with great open space assets.

The aerial photo above shows both new and old quarries. There is a very large working quarry just north of the Illinois River and west of Illinois Route 178. People are nearly unaware of it as the drive past en route to the State Park. And it is an old quarry developed before the current requirements for wide landscaped berms between the quarry and surrounding land uses and roads.

Just north of the open quarry is an old quarry that has been abandoned and has filled up, forming a very nice lake.  The lake is owned by a hunters group who feed wild birds.  It is beautiful place with a fantastic concentration of birds. You can see it by walking down the Illinois and Michigan Canal towpath, which is now a hiking and biking trail.

To the top right of the aerial is another old quarry that has turned into a nice lake and open space. Mother nature does a good job of taking rough quarries and mines and bringing them back to nature.

This area along the Illinois is a major habitat for Bald Eagles. Just east of the aerial in the Illinois River is a great place to watch the Eagles.

We have greatly increased the environmental regulation on quarries and mines.  Owners are required to restore the quarries to a quality use - usually a lake and open space.


The aerial below is the Nathan Benderson Park in Sarasota, Florida.  It is a unique 600-acre park which provides the public access to a 500-acre lake. The county purchased the site in the early 1990’s. Before that, the property had been an active shell excavation pit for road construction fill. It is used for recreation and international rowing competitions.  








Quarries and mines do have significant environmental impacts. But we have developed regulations that mitigate environmental damage during the operation of the quarry and require extensive landscaping, dust control, and blasting control. And the quarries and mines must now be turned back into a quality land use after the mining is over. The finished use is usually a lake with open space or residential adjacent to the lake.


  1. Nathan Benderson Park

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  2. Nathan Benderson Park

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    Community Wellness Outreach at Nathan Benderson Park · Community Outreach ... Feb 15, 2014. Sarasota Invitational Regatta - Feb 22, 2014 to Feb 23, 2014.

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    About Nathan Benderson Park. Nathan Benderson Park is located in Sarasota, Florida. It is slated to become North America's premier 2,000-meter sprint course  ...

  4. Pages - Benderson Park - Sarasota County Government

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    Nathan Benderson Park is a unique recreational venue which provides the public access to several lakes for non-motorized boating, fishing, bird-watching and ...

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About Nathan Benderson Park

Nathan Benderson Park is located in Sarasota, Florida. It is slated to become North America’s premier 2,000-meter sprint course and regatta center by 2014. Over $40 million is committed to the facility’s future development, including 2,200 meter racing lanes and straight shorelines by 2013, coaching lanes, wave attenuation, a multi-function boathouse and athlete training center, starting huts and finish towers, grand stands and a state of the art boat maintenance and testing facility. Most of these facilities will be constructed on a first of its kind “regatta island” – an Olympic Village type setting which will provide competitors the support and focus which rowing demands, and spectators a viewing and entertainment platform unparalleled at sprint courses elsewhere in the world.

The Park will also be home to numerous other paddle sport competitions, from dragon boats to canoe and kayak races, as well as triathlon and cross country events. And to top it all off, the Park is located immediately adjacent to University Town Center – Southwest Florida’s premier shopping, dining and entertainment destination.

Park History

Nathan Benderson Park is a unique 600-acre park which provides the public access to a 500-acre lake. The county purchased the site in the early 1990’s. Before that, the property had been an active shell excavation pit for road construction fill. Cooper Creek enters the east side of the large lake and exits at the northwest corner.

Nathan Benderson park is situated west of Interstate 75 and east of The Meadows residential community. The future north Cattlemen Road extension will provide additional access to the park and its amenities. One of a handful of sites in North America identified as having all of the natural attributes that make up a premiere rowing facility, Nathan Benderson Park began hosting organized regatta competitions in 2009.

Two successful regattas were held in 2009, followed by four in 2010, seven in 2011, and seven in 2012! We are now looking forward to another successful up-coming regatta season in 2013!