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Cleanup Corner: Cleanup Dates


Wow, its only March, and already there are more than 20 cleanups on the calendar. Water TrailKeepers is happy to partner with other organizations, promote stewardship activities, recruit volunteers, and when we can provide additional support. Contact WTK Program manager Tom Eckels at program-manager@watertrailkeepers.org to add your event to the calendar.


  • April 3, Upper DesPlaines River, Reach TBD
  • April 30, Upper DesPlaines River, Reach TBD
  • May 14, Willow Creek Cleanup
  • May 15, Upper DesPlaines River, Reach TBD
  • June 4, Little Calumet River
  • June 11, Upper DesPlaines River, Reach TBD
  • July 9, Upper DesPlaines River, Reach TBD
  • July 23, Fox River in St Charles
  • July 31, Pecatonica River Cleanup
  • Aug 6, Upper DesPlaines River, Reach TBD
  • Aug 6, Fox River in Oswego
  • August, Date TBD, Kishwaukee River in Boon County
  • Sept 10, Rock River Sweep
  • Sept 10, Upper DesPlaines River between Cook and Lake County
  • Sept 10, Willow Creek Cleanup
  • Sept 17, Upper DesPlaines River, Reach TBD
  • Sept 17, Fox River in Algonquin ‘River Days’
  • Oct 8, Upper DesPlaines River, Reach TBD
  • Oct 29, Upper DesPlaines River, Reach TBD
  • Nov 12, Upper DesPlaines River, Reach TBD
  • Dec 3, Upper DesPlaines River, Reach TBD

Support the Sarah Hartman Fund for Paddle Sports Education

To promote the long-term viability of the program, we are running an Online Silent Auction. All auction proceeds support the Sarah Hartman Fund for paddlesports education. The Sarah Hartman fund has been established to provide support for individuals in the Midwest states of IL, Iowa, Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin who are certifying as ACA Level 3 (and above) instructors, ACA Instructor Trainers, or the appropriate BCU level Coach by providing a onetime grant to help offset some of the costs of certification. Information on the fund is available here:,

Items available in the auction include:

GREY OWL, CANADA, BEAVERTAIL PADDLE – 63” long, excellent condition – donated by the Pilgrims. Pickup in Evanston, or make arrangements

NORTHWEST PASSAGE – two certificates for a two-hour Stand Up Paddle-Board Adventure for one person – $50.00 value each – www.nwpassage.com – expires 10/11/16. Will mail to lucky winner

RUTABAGA – $100.00 Gift Certificate – www.rutabaga.com – valid in store. Will mail to lucky winner

ROCKTOWN ADVENTURES –Gift Certificate for Shuttle Kayak trip for 6 people on Fox River from Batavia to Aurora. $175.00 value – expires 10/31/16 – www.rocktownadventures.com. Will mail to lucky winner

LL BEAN – $200.00 Gift Certificate – www.LLBean.com – valid in store or online. Will mail to lucky winner

Please bid early and bid often!

Event Announcement: IPC Both at CanoeCopia

Canoecopia is the largest canoeing/kayaking/paddling show in the Midwest.  Information about the show is available:  www.canoecopia.com

The Illinois Paddling Council will have a booth at Canoecopia again this year, and we could use some help staffing t!. Staffing a booth is a fun and rewarding way to participate in Canoecopia, providing an unique  opportunity to meet lots of paddlers and talk about paddling.  (Almost but not quite as fun as going paddling!)


Not sure what to say?  No problem.  We will provide talking points.


To sign up for one or more time-slots, http://doodle.com/poll/ey2t96iega9q5c8b or email president@illinoispaddling.org;

Paddle Green Earth Day Cleanup

Greetings and Happy New Year!

This spring the ACA is coordinating a Paddle Green Earth Day Cleanup weekend watershed cleanup. As an incentive for groups to host a cleanup, the ACA is offering a chance to win a weekend of free instruction in SUP, Canoe, or Kayak from an ACA Instructor Trainer. We are asking ACA State Directors to help us get the word out to the community so that together we can clean up our watersheds and raise awareness about water quality issues.

Who can host an event?

Any ACA member, PAC, of OLG may host a cleanup event and be registered to win a weekend of instruction for the group. Volunteers helping in the cleanup do not have to be ACA members.

Where should cleanups be held?

Cleanups can take place on any waterway, streams, rivers, bay, ocean, estuary, lake….. We encourage paddlers to remove marine debris from areas that are only accessible by boat for a part of the cleanup.

When should these cleanups be scheduled?

Paddle Green Earth Day Cleanups should be scheduled any of the following days: Friday April 22nd through Sunday April 24th, 2016.

What are the incentives for hosting a cleanup?

The ACA will provide two prizes as incentives to participating groups in the Paddle Green Earth Day Cleanup. The first prize will be given to the group that removes the most Marine Debris. The second prize will be drawn at random from the list of groups that report an eligible cleanup. Each incentive will be a weekend (two 6 hour days) of skills training to any group (not more than 10 persons in a training each day). Groups can choose courses from the canoe, coastal kayak, or SUP disciplines. Skills courses must be held in 2016. The ACA will provide the Instructor Trainer for the skills course(s). Course Participants must provide their own boats, gear, and transportation.

How can my group become eligible to win a weekend of skills training?

Groups can become eligible for the incentives by:

  • Register your cleanup online by visiting the website and submitting a completed registration form. Your cleanup will be posted to the ACA calendar.
  • Engaging a minimum of 10 volunteers in a waterway marine debris clean up on April 22nd, 23rd, or 24th, 2016.
  • Each volunteer must pick up at least 1 paddle Green Bag (or the equivalent) of Marine Debris from a waterway and dispose of it properly.
  • Each group must submit a completed cleanup report form to the ACA using either the online report form, or by submitting a paper report form by April 29th 2016.
  • Each group’s report must include a picture of the cleanup activities and a brief (250 words +/-) description of your cleanup project to be posted on the ACA webpage, showing your group’s stewardship work. (Due April 29, 2016)

When will groups know if they received the incentive?

Recipients will be selected at random at the ACA office on May 2, and will be notified by email by May 6, 2016.

We look forward to your participation in keeping our waterways clean and healthy!

Long Distance Paddling Events



If the 18.5 miles of the Des Plaines Marathon (May 22 this year) are not long enough for you – participate in one of these events to test your stamina – or at least, be astonished that some paddlers can do this.

Friday, April 22 – to Sunday, April 24 – CAMPUS TO COAST – www.msuoc.org/c2c/ 

Starting in Wonch Park, Okemos, MI and ending in Grand Haven on the edge of Lake Michigan.  Campus to Coast (C2C160) is a paddle sport adventure race put on by the Michigan State University Outdoors Club. The race starts on MSU’s campus at the Rock (central part of campus), following the Red Cedar River into the Grand River and out through Grand Haven, finishing at Grand Haven State Park. The race is approximately 160 miles, with estimations of the fastest times being anywhere from 26-40 hours, depending on the river conditions, and 57 hours being the cut-off time. This race also contains 7 portages, along with one section where racers must “canoe line” a small section of fall over dams.  This race can only be competed in using kayaks, canoes, or a vessel that is strictly “man powered.”  Participants are from all over the U.S., as well as other BIG 10 Universities.

Saturday, June 11 – Texas Water Safari – http://www.texaswatersafari.org/

Described as the World’s Toughest Canoe RaceThe Safari is an annual race via the San Marcos and Guadalupe rivers, from Aquarena Springs in the college town of San Marcos, to the shrimping village of Seadrift on the Texas coastline, a total distance of 260 miles. The first official race was held in 1963, and is run annually on the second Saturday of June.  It actually has a series of events – so be sure to check the calendar page for more details http://www.texaswatersafari.org/calendar/

Wednesday, June 29 – to Sunday, July 3 – Yukon River Quest – http://www.yukonriverquest.com/

Described as the “Race to the Midnight Sun,” this 444-mile wilderness adventure paddling race is held on the Yukon River, from Whitehorse to Dawson City, in Canada’s Yukon Territory. Held during the last week of June, the YRQ is the world’s longest annual canoe and kayak race. Paddlers race round-the-clock under a sky that never gets dark. There are just two mandatory rest stops – totaling 10 hours – over the course of the entire event. The Yukon River Quest draws participants from all over the world. In 2015, 57 teams from 12 countries started the race and 44 teams finished.

Saturday, July 30 – AuSable River Canoe Marathon – www.ausablecanoemarathon.org/

This is a non-stop canoe race that starts at night with a thrilling running-start to the river in Grayling, MI, and ends 120 miles later near the shores of Lake Huron in Oscoda, MI.  Contestants must navigate the narrow, winding upper stretch in total darkness, as well as stump-filled ponds and the blazing July sun in the lower stretch.  This race is not a recreational canoe float, but a professional, ultra-competitive race with the very best professional paddlers from around North and Central America. Before planning to participate, check the website for more details – this is not for beginners.

From one participant:

Throughout my life I have been a waterman. I have snorkeled, done scuba diving, fishing, rec. canoeing, surfing. When I started training for racing I had finally found a way that I could tie my love for the water in with mastering an artful craft. A race canoe is something that you can master. There is so much technique and skill involved you can always be improving. The AuSable Marathon is the ultimate proving ground for your hard work and dedication. You don’t have to be a top ten paddler to be a master of your boat. By L.j. Bourgeois      

For more AuSable Marathon pics, info, and videos:



Check each website for more information, pictures, and if you know of any other North American long distance paddling races, let us know and we’ll add them to the list.

Reel Paddling Film Festival



Presented by the Chicago Whitewater Association

Rapid Media’s 11th annual Reel Paddling Film Festival showcases the world’s best paddling films to audiences in Canada, United States and around the world. The festival inspires more people to explore rivers, lakes and oceans, push physical and emotional extremes, embrace the lifestyle and appreciate the heritage of the wild places we paddle.

The Reel Paddling Film Festival is a film contest awarding winning films in 10 categories. The winners and other shortlisted films are then toured to more than 100 cities around the world, screening for an audience of more than 30,000 outdoor adventure enthusiasts and their friends and families.

Wednesday, March 23rd, Durty Nellies Concert Hall 180 N. SMITH ST., PALATINE, IL 60067

Doors open at 6:30PM, Show begins at 7:00PM, All Ages Event.

Prizes from local sponsors (all attendees will get 1 raffle ticket).

Free digital subscription to Rapid media.

~2.5 hrs of films featuring whitewater kayaking, sea kayaking, canoeing, SUP, paddle racing, wilderness paddling and the environment.

Great craft beer selection at venue, free parking, next to Metra.

Tickets:  In Advance: $12 Adult, $10 Student w/ID   At the door: $15 (all ages) https://ticketriver.com/event/18843

Ralph Frese Memorial Paddle

Sat, April 9, 9 AM

Ralph Frese
Ralph Frese

Willow Road Dam, Winnetka

Experienced paddlers, bring your canoe or kayak and celebrate the legacy of canoe legend Ralph Frese by paddling down the Chicago River from Willow Road Dam to Linne Woods in Morton Grove. A shuttle bus will be provided and will run from 8 am to 2 pm from Linne Woods (Dempster St and Ferris Ave) to Willow Road Dam. The event is free and concludes with a celebration at Linne Woods where refreshments will be served.

For more information call 312-533-5751.

Register at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/ralph-frese-memorial-paddle-tickets-21462682461.

Cost: Free