Illinois paddlers along underdeveloped waterways just received some exciting news! Since my article in the previous newsletter, we have found out that IDNR will be re-opening the Boat Access Area Development (BAAD) local grant program for applications starting next June. The BAAD Program provides financial assistance to local government agencies for the acquisition, construction, and expansion or rehabilitation of public boat and canoe access areas on Illinois’ lakes and rivers. For more info on the BAAD program, visit their website here:
Developing boat access areas promotes paddlesports on Illinois rivers by making the paddling experience easier, safer and therefore more enjoyable, which keeps people coming back. And as we were reminded at the recent Water Trails Conference in Channahon, getting people out on our rivers is the simplest and most effective way to build appreciation, support, value and an attitude of protection for all Illinois Rivers.
In addition, funding was recently released for previously funded BAAD grant projects that have remained on hold for nearly 4 years.
Once such project will be a new access point on the East Branch of the DuPage River in Lisle Park District’s Community Park. Dan Garvy of the Lisle Park District said that a key to the successful application was that the Northeastern Illinois Water Trails Plan had already identified Community Park as a future launch site. This stresses the importance of communities creating a water trail plan as a vital first step in access area development.
Garvy reports that the new $100,0000 project will include large stepped outcropping stones and be handicapped accessible with a 180-foot concrete ramp to safely get paddlers down to the river.
Closer to my home here on the Sangamon River outside of Mahomet, Parks and Rec Director Dan Waldinger gave up on state funding for his previously approved and pending BAAD grant and subsequently applied for similar funding for the same river access project through the Recreational Trails Program (RTP). This $100,000 project was also recently approved, so we will be soon getting our first ever canoe and kayak launch site on the Upper Sangamon River. Waldinger’s experience points to the importance of looking to multiple sources to fund water rail access development. In addition, Waldinger reports that having a broader water trail plan in place was also crucial for the success of Mahomet’s application.
I look forward to sharing more exciting developments in the future (send me info about your latest successes). Presentations and discussions during the recent Water Trails Conference suggest that many more access points are needed. Let’s encourage DNR to provide even more funding for BAAD grants and other programs. And don’t forget to encourage your own municipalities, park districts and forest preserves to get their applications in next summer!