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IPC Growth and Expansion

From the President’s Desk: Growth and Expansion of the IPC

For many of us, paddling has become more than just a hobby or a sport. It becomes a way of life. We chose where we live so we have access to water! We pick our cars for the roof rack and gear space! Our vacation time is spent around the next paddling adventure or excursion. Rivers up…surfs up? Great—call in sick…time to go paddling!

Does this sound at all familiar? Do you want to see Illinois become a more paddle-friendly state? Improve and add access to paddleable lakes, rivers, and streams? Promote paddling safety? End arbitrary river closures? Provide stewardship to Illinois paddleable waterways? Promote paddlesports competition? See more youth activity in paddling?

Whatever your paddling interests and passions, the IPC could use your help! There are several ways to give back to our paddling lifestyle:


The IPC sets up an informational display at many paddling related events. Staffing these displays is a great way to get involved. You meet lots of great people while sharing your passion for paddling!

Water TrailKeepers provides stewardship for Illinois Paddleable Waterways. It is very rewarding to see a large pile of trash you pulled out of the river, knowing it is being disposed of properly! We have plenty of opportunities to get involved.

Paddling safety initiatives such as Paddlers Patrol and the Paddling Safety Task-force give paddlers an opportunity to promote safety.

Stepping up the level of participation, there are a number of Voice positions open. A voice is a board level position that serves as a liaison between a specific paddling community and the IPC board. Each Member Club appoints a Voice to the IPC board. Traditionally there are voices for specific Paddling Disciplines such as White Water, Sea Kayaking, Flat Water Paddling, Parks & Forest Preserve Districts, and Water TrailKeepers. Additionally there are Regional Voice Positions for NorthEast IL, NorthWest IL, Central IL, and Southern IL.

Or perhaps you have another idea or suggestion for how you want to get involved?

 I will be organizing several coffee-and-conversation events again this off-season. These would be a great opportunity to discuss your involvement in IPC activities. Of course you can also contact me directly.


Tom Eckels

President, Illinois Paddling Council



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




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

A Call To Action

From the Presidents Desk

A Call to Action

It is an exciting time to be a paddler in Illinois–there are a lot of projects and programs working towards improving paddling in Illinois.  I would like to thank you in advance for taking some of your valuable time and supporting these activities, and others as they come up.  Please feel free to contact me and I will put you in contact with the appropriate people for these projects.

Several communities are looking to improve their waterfront presence, and we have the opportunity to provide input.  Notably there are active projects along the Fox River in St Charles, Carpentersville, and Algonquin.  There is another project on the KanKakee River in Wilmington, IL.

There are active projects for three Illinois Rivers to become recognized as National Water Trails.  There are committees working on the Sangamon River, Kankakee River, and Fox River for this designation.  Additionally there is a active signage project on Banner Marsh in Central IL establishing it as a locally recognized Water Trail

Proposed legislation passed the House and Senate and is awaiting the Signature of our Governor to help improve the Water Usage Stamp by exempting out-of-state paddlers from the Stamp when they participate in paddling events in IL. Our Water Usage Stamp task force will continue to work on promoting incremental improvements of the program.

IPC Programs Remain Active: The River Closure Task Force continues to work with the DNR to address arbitrary river closures based on ‘high water’.  Water TrailKeepers Continues to run cleanups;  Paddlers Patrol continues to provide safety at events. Our Newsletter Committee has been working hard to produce these newsletters, and our web committee has worked hard to update the IPC Website.

For those who have renewed or become new Members this year, Thank YOU! You directly support our continued involvement in these activities and more. If you have not yet become a member for 2015, it is not too late. Memberships now accepted on line:

Tom Eckels

President, Illinois Paddling Council

Program Manager, Illinois Water TrailKeepers



IPC Regional Voices Program

We are a diverse group of paddlers in Illinois.  White Water, Flat Water, Big Lakes, Small Lakes…Canoes, Kayaks, SUP…  Additional diversity can be found in the diverse backgrounds from which we come. There is geographical diversity to consider. We live in a big state.  There are many miles of lakes, rivers, creeks, streams, and swamps to paddle between Galena, Winthrop Harbor, and the Shawnee National Forests.  They flow through many towns, cities, and counties without caring one whit about the local politics.

A large part of the IPC mission is Advocacy and Access Development.  This means we need to worry about local politics as well as state wide politics.  The very diversity of these communities lends to the idea that solutions that work in one area may not work in another.  If we are going to represent the interest of paddlers throughout the state, the IPC has no choice but to expand our board.

With this in mind I am proud to announce the position of ‘Regional Voice’ on the IPC board.  We are looking for a Voice of North West IL, Voice of North East Il, Voice of Central IL, and Voice of Southern IL. The voice serves as a two-way conduit between their community and the IPC board. The ideal candidates would have strong ties to various paddling and other like-minded organizations in their communities.

If you are interested in serving as a Regional Voice, please email thomasreckels@gmail.com and jtginger@mac.com with the answers to the following three questions:


  1. Why do I want to be on the board?
  2. What do I hope to accomplish in the next year; the next three years?
  3. What special skills and abilities do I bring to the board?


Tom Eckels

President, Illinois Paddling Council

Program Manager, Illinois Water Trail Keepers