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Category: Advocacy

Your comments on the proposed $140,000,000 Longmeadow Parkway are urgently requested.

Your comments on the proposed $140,000,000 Longmeadow Parkway are urgently requested.
By Gary Swick
President, Friends of the Fox River
December 9th – January 9th is probably the worst time of the year tosolicit volunteer efforts, as it is the busy holiday season. But this is the window thathas been assigned to have a voice on the proposed Longmeadow Parkway. Please raise your voice, as this is significant in the approval process. We have found that the Army Corps of Engineers do consider our comments. Requesting a public hearing would allow foradditional time to comment.Below are links for background information, and comment submission guidelines.









Please educate yourself on the associated issues. The sample letter to the Governor on the CURB site offers four main points. There are however a long list of concerns that are associated with these categories, especially relative to environmental impacts. Contact either the stoplongmeadow or CURB folks through their web sites for specific information. Sample letters are also available. The Environmental Law and Policy Center, Openlands, and Illinois Sierra Club’s comments on the legality of building a highway through a County Forest Preserve are especially compelling. I welcome the opportunity to work with individuals or groups on this issue.

Please develop and submit your public comment before January 9th. It is very important to strictly adhere to the comment parameters. The Army Corps and IEPA have different requirements and are two different permits, but they are accepting joint letters of comment. Also please share the need for public comment with your own social circles. We need to demonstrate that the public cares. This is a very important opportunity to take action on a project that could have significant impact socially, economically, and environmentally. We need your voice.


LMP public comment call

LMP talking points sample 1

ACE public comment – 2

lmp assessment by ed


It’s Gift Giving Season

By Sigrid Pilgrim




Give a gift membership to any one of these national, state, and local organizations.

Many come with interesting monthly magazines as well. Read more about each on their websites. Then chose one or more for the gift membership that best fits you and your recipient’s interests.

THE NATURE CONSERVANCYwww.nature.org/ – its mission is to conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends. Their vision is a world where the diversity of life thrives, and people act to conserve nature for its own sake and its ability to fulfill our needs and enrich our lives. Chapters are located in all 50 states and 35 countries. Closer to home, the organization has recently reintroduced Bison in the Nachusa Grasslands Preserve.

NATURAL RESOURCES DEFENSE COUNCILwww.nrdc.org – is the nation’s most effective environmental action group, combining the grassroots power of more than 2 million members and online activists with the courtroom clout and expertise of nearly 500 lawyers, scientists and other professionals.

SIERRA CLUBwww.sierraclub.org – Founded by legendary conservationist John Muir in 1892, the Sierra Club is now the nation’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization — with more than two million members and supporters. Successes range from protecting millions of acres of wilderness to helping pass the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and Endangered Species Act.

AMERICAN RIVERSwww.americanrivers.org – protects wild rivers, restores damaged rivers, and conserves clean water for people and nature. Since 1973, American Rivers has protected and restored more than 150,000 miles of rivers through advocacy efforts, on-the-ground projects, and an annual America’s Most Endangered Rivers®

RIVER NETWORKwww.rivernetwork.org – envisions a future of clean and ample water for people and nature, where local caretakers are well-equipped, effective and courageous champions for our rivers by empowering and uniting people and communities to protect and restore rivers and other waters that sustain all life. River Network’s work is primarily focused on helping small and medium size organizations working at the local level who provide a voice for the needs of specific rivers and their watersheds by providing resources and expertise in three areas essential to healthy rivers.

AMERICAN WHITEWATERwww.americanwhitewater.org – conserves and restores America’s whitewater resources and works to enhance opportunities to enjoy them safely. The organization is the primary advocate for the preservation and protection of whitewater rivers throughout the United States, and connects the interests of human-powered recreational river users with ecological and science-based data to achieve the goals within its mission.

AMERICAN CANOE ASSOCIATIONwww.americancanoe.org – founded in 1880, is the oldest sports association in the U.S serving the broader paddling public by providing education related to all aspects of paddling; stewardship support to help protect paddling environments; and sanctioning of programs and events to promote paddlesport competition, exploration and recreation.

PRAIRIE RIVERS NETWORKSwww.prairierivers.org – advocate for clean water and healthy rivers in Illinois. PRN champions clean, healthy rivers and lakes and safe drinking water to benefit the people and wildlife of Illinois. Drawing upon sound science and working cooperatively with others, PRN advocates public policies and cultural values that sustain the ecological health and biological diversity of water resources and aquatic ecosystems.

ALLIANCE FOR THE GREAT LAKESwww.greatlakes.org – the organization’s mission is to conserve and restore the world’s largest freshwater resource using policy, education and local efforts, ensuring  healthy Great Lakes and clean water for generations of people and wildlife.

OPENLANDS www.openlands.org – protects the natural and open spaces of northeastern Illinois and the surrounding region to ensure cleaner air and water, protect natural habitats and wildlife. Openlands’ vision for the region is a landscape that includes a vast network of land and water trail believing that protected open space is critical for the quality of life of our region.

On a slightly different theme – consider giving a gift subscription to SILENT SPORTS magazine. This monthly publication covers all self-propelled sports in the Midwest and is a great resource for places to paddle, bike, hike, ski, and for events you may not know about.  Subscriptions are $24.95 for twelve issues.  Thank you SILENT SPORTS for donating two annual subscriptions to our door prize raffle at our annual dinner.

Joel Patenaude, Editor,Silent Sports Magazine, 715/258-4354, P.O. Box 620583, Middleton, WI 53562


ILLINOIS PADDLING COUNCIL – www.illinoispaddling.org – brings you this list of Holiday Gift Giving Opportunities, hoping that you may also consider joining or renewing your membership in our organization. If you have renewed after July 1, 2015, your membership will extend through 2016, but of course, we will always welcome early renewals. THANK YOU.


From the President’s Desk Year In Review and Looking Forward



Wow, Has it been a year already? At the beginning of the year I discussed the following five priorities for the IPC, coming from last year’s paddlers’ survey


  • Development of Water Trails and Access Points.
  • Advocacy
  • Safety and Education
  • Stewardship
  • Our Web Page and Online Presence


So how have we done? Some Highlights of the year




I would like to think that we are heading in the right direction, but still have a lot to do! Should anyone want to take a more active role in the IPC, I would welcome the increased participation. There are a number of board positions available. Please feel free to contact me so we can discuss how to get involved.




Tom Eckels,

President, Illinois Paddling Council

Program Manager, Illinois Water TrailKeepers




Out-of-State WUS Exemption Update

By Sigrid Pilgrim

As you may recall, IDNR last year provided IPC with the amendatory language to exempt out-of-state paddlers from the WUS requirement if they participated in an organized event.

HB 227 was passed unanimously by both the House and Senate, but Governor Rauner vetoed the bill with the explanation that out-of-state paddlers should not enjoy a benefit that in-state paddlers do not have.

I have had extensive conversations and email exchanges with a Policy Advisor on Environment and Energy in Governor Rauner’s office, who also forwarded me the two attachments (linked below) and explained them to me.  Attachment one is the Special Order by Joe Morlock, Deputy Chief, Office of Law Enforcement which was signed February 28, 2014 and which states that this rule will not be enforced. We knew that DNR was not going to enforce the rule in 2014, but did not know it was extended beyond. Therefore, if you are a paddling competition or other public event organizer, please be sure to print out a copy of this order and have it with you in case any law enforcement officer may question why there are boats without a WUS (as long as that paddler can proof s/he is not an Illinois citizen.) This order pertains to All Law Enforcement Personnel, not only the Conservation Police, as per confirmation from the Governor’s Policy Advisor.

Attachment two is the regatta application that DNR requires event organizers to fill out and return. The explanation given to me was that DNR wants to know about such events so if there is a need for additional safety they can inform their personnel accordingly.

Non resident water usage

regatta application

From the President’s Desk:


Paddling Safety Task Force


There have been far too many news stories about people going out in unsafe conditions and getting themselves in trouble or killed.  Two different groups of rafters got hung up on strainers on the DuPage at High Flood stage and had to be rescued. A tuber and a kayaker were killed on the Mackinaw at High Water.


It is very clear that many people do not understand the safety issues or the skills required to safely enjoy Illinois Paddleable waterways.  There have been a lot of discussions both on Facebook and via email lists about how to address this problem.


Addressing this issue requires a multifaceted approach:


Develop press outreach materials and a press outreach campaign to help steer media articles to discuss the safety issue.


Develop and distribute Online Safety materials.  Either develop new materials and link to already existing materials.  Make sure that the materials are available widely on the web and through social media.


Develop and Distribute Printed Safety materials at events by staffing informational tables, through retailers and liveries, etc.


Develop, promote, and support formal training opportunities for people to learn to enjoy our waterways safely and responsibly.


In our board meeting, the IPC voted to charter a Paddling Safety Taskforce.  However, this will be too big for the IPC to accomplish by ourselves. It will need to involve a coalition of Organizations, paddling clubs, paddle sports businesses, liveries, and individuals working on this task force.


Who else is in?




Sarah Hartman Fund for Paddle Sports Education


We are all saddened by the passing of a fellow paddler, Sarah Hartman.  As an Avid Sea Kayaker, Flat Water River Kayaker, White Water Kayaker, Sarah touched so many of our lives.  She was an incredible Athlete, coach, teacher, and friend.  Any words in this newsletter are inadequate to the task of expressing the loss.


Her Family has requested that Donations in her memory be made to either Team River Runner or Chicago Adventure Therapy.  We would ask people to give generously to these great organizations in her memory!


There is a web page available to express ones memories of Sarah at: http://www.legacy.com/guestbook/Batesville/guestbook.aspx?n=sarah-hartman&pid=175286131

The IPC Board voted to rename the Heartland Fund to the Sarah Hartman Fund for Paddle Sports Education.  The heartland fund was established several years ago to help with a small stipend to those who achieve level-3 ACA Instructor certifications (or the equivalent BCU Coaching Certificates).  More information for the Sarah Hartman Fund for Paddle Sports Education  is available on the IPC Website:  http://www.illinoispaddling.net/heartland-fund/


Tom Eckels



President, Illinois Paddling Council


IPC has been requested to survey the paddling community – especially those living in or near Cook County – to make suggestions for new or improved put-ins and other infrastructure improvements within the Forest Preserves of Cook County. If you have any suggestions as to new or improved access/exit sites, and other improvements as it pertains to paddlesport, please forward details by June 30 deadline to Sigrid Pilgrim – spconsult@comcast.net – thank you.

Great Rivers Chicago Survey

Please take the Great Rivers Chicago Survey: survey

Friends of the Chicago River, in partnership with the Metropolitan Planning Council, the City of Chicago and others, is creating a coordinated, long-term vision that will make Chicago’s rivers more accessible, attractive, and active. Completing this 10-minute survey is the first opportunity you have to help us achieve that goal.


House Bill 227 has passed the Senate to exempt out-of-state paddlers participating in an organized event from the WUS requirement.

As the next step – Governor Rauner has 60 days to sign it – if he does not sign it within this period – it will become law.

If you wish to contact the Governor urging him to sign it – Senator Morrison who sponsored the bill in the Senate, suggests that you contact Governor Rauner at the following address.


Please include your suggestion that all out-of-state paddlers should be exempted as well.

Thank you – Sigrid

Report Dumping

By now everyone has probably seen the big California Oil Spill on the news. How about the two Illinois Oil Spills, one in Galina and one near Sidney in the Salt Fork of the Vermillion River? Read about them here:






While these are dramatic examples, it doesn’t take a train-wreck-sized spill to have an environmental impact. Even small events matter. So you are paddling your favorite body of water, and notice a chemical sheen. Besides being grossed out…what do you do? One paddler of the Fox River on Memorial Day weekend experienced just this. Jake, contacted the local authorities in Aurora who were extremely responsive. Eric, who has been involved with volunteer water quality monitoring projects, and also happens to be the City Engineer was able to trace the spill back to the source and clean it up!  The Illinois EPA was also notified to investigate the spill. Great Victory guys!


A few years back, also on the Fox, some paddlers discovered a fish-kill off. They contacted local authorities. Eventually the culprit was found, and justice served. Great Victory!


Last Month, Mike Taylor and Tom Eckels were paddling the Little Calumet River. We discovered a illegal disposal site of truck tires and automotive parts behind a trucking company, dumped in the river. A call was placed to the local authorities. It is yet to be seen as to what happens. Let’s hope for another great victory!

So you are paddling on your favorite waterway. You find a chemical spill or an illegal dump site. What do you do? First of all, do not come into direct contact with any potential contaminants. Let the professionals do their job. The safest thing to do is to report it. But to whom. A good place to start is your local village/town/city/county hall. The staff there could direct you to the local authorities who can take direct action. Additionally these types of incidents fall into the jurisdiction of the Illinois EPA. For a chemical spill or other emergency; For A non-emergency:

Another tool available is the Report a Water Trail Problem of the Water TrailKeepers. WTK volunteers are willing to assist as much as we can!

No responsiveness from the local government or Illinois EPA? Consider contacting your State and/or Federal Senator or Representative’s office. Putting a little political heat under the feet of those responsible is always an option.  Also find organizations such as the Illinois Water TrailKeepers, Prairie River Networks, American Rivers, River Alliance, Friends of groups, etc. etc. etc. to help address the issue. Many organizations have existing relationships with authorities, and can call on their relationships to help get things cleaned up!