Home » Archives for JS

Author: JS

Increasing Diversity in Paddlesport

By Sigrid Pilgrim, Director  

The question has been raised how IPC could support increasing inclusiveness of minorities in the sport. 

I do not have the answer, so I asked Tim Mondl from the Forest Preserves of Cook County to share with you about their paddling programs involving inner city schools and other organizations.  Read his article elsewhere in the newsletter.

In the fourteen years that I organized the Evanston Pool Session for CWA, I cannot remember having had a Black student in the class. In the twelve years I chaired Paddling in the Park, we twice hosted a group of Wards of the State (mostly minorities) to participate in our Kids Paddling Playground sponsored by the Lincoln Park Boat Club. I can still see the big smiles on the kids’ faces once they overcame the initial apprehension about being in the boat – and – getting a little too brave, until the inevitable tip-over, which quickly extinguished all bravery.

So how can we increase minority participation in our sport? Perhaps best by supporting with time and money those organizations that have it as their mission to do so. Participation in paddlesport is expensive as we all know, even second or third hand equipment eventually adds up to what is better spent on food or rent. Then there is the issue of how to get to the place to paddle, which for youngsters, requires a parent to get involved. And….two or three low paying jobs don’t really allow for this either.

So please – support the following organizations – and there may be others, too.

FOREST PRESERVE FOUNDATIONwww.forestpreservefoundation.org

CHICAGO ADVENTURE THERAPYwww.chicagoadventuretherapy.org

CHICAGO VOYAGERSwww.chicagovoyagers.org

MELANIN BASE CAMPwww.melaninbasecamp.com

Safety on the Water

By Greg Taylor

SO, now that we are dealing with this lifestyle-changing, pandemic virus lockdown, I’m hearing on the street and in the news that personal watercraft and bicycles are flying off the shelves. Go to any Walmart and try to buy a bike, or Menards for a kayak, or Dick’s for a canoe. These places are making a killing selling them. Tires and inner tubes for bikes are virtually non-existent. I know most of you who are reading this are highly interested in personal propulsion watercraft. So there is now definitely a fairly large new group of paddlers plying local streams, lakes, and rivers. We are now looking at a large potential group of people not following highly suggested guidance on safe paddling, such as not drinking while enjoying their easy going paddle down a wide beautiful river like the Fox in Illinois. I am not going to say it is not tempting, yes it surely is, but two things should make you think twice: first one is about as easy as the second one. First, I wouldn’t want to have to be forced into a decision-defining moment such as a strainer while inebriated. The second is just as easy. I am not driving home buzzed.

Newbies to our time-honored fabulous sport need a tremendous amount of training and time in the saddle to paddle safely. So while writing this article, I was unfortunately disturbed to open my Facebook feed and find a video of a man at Hammel Woods caught in a low head dam. Commentators stated, “he just wanted to go fishing.” Later I opened up Facebook again and a gentleman that I found I’ve met before at PSC training session posted an article about a family of six that were rescued from the DuPage River near Channahon on Sunday. Their rafts became deflated and they luckily found shelter on a tree in the water. Some of the individuals were found with personal floatation devices, others were not. Sorry to be such a downer during an even more depressing social disaster we are all having to live through, but potentially life-ending situations like this are absurd to be happening. I can only fear that they are only going to increase through the summer into late fall. The uninformed in our sport are also creating an unnecessary danger to themselves. I am thinking it is time to make it mandatory that people must pass a test and become certified before buying a canoe, kayak, stand up paddle board, etc. You need a driver’s license before you can buy a car. You have to have a pilot’s license to fly a plane. You need a FOID card before you can buy a firearm in this state. Anyone can discharge a firearm like anyone can successfully paddle a boat? Although possible, not the wisest decision without the proper training.
Editor’s note: IPC has been working with the WSF to address the issue of newcomers to the sport by contacting the big box stores to give out safety information.  Please see more about their latest work here.

River Management Society and Chapter Leadership

Summary information about River Management SocietyMeet the RMS!

The River Management Society (RMS) is the nation’s only network whose mission is to support professionals who study, protect and manage North America’s rivers. RMS connects those who work on and for rivers: outfitters and guides, river rangers, landscape architects and planners, environmental lawyers, fluvial geomorphologists, scientists and students.  Members represent a tradition of expertise and experience among those who work with, and for, federal and state agency, water trail, recreation and advocacy organizations.  

We are proud of several major initiatives created during the past few years, which include:

The National Rivers Project, an evolving national database of rivers that allow visitors to ‘shop’ for a water trail, whitewater or wild and scenic river experience by state or federal agency.  Thanks to well over forty partners, the http://www.nationalriversproject.com website includes over 1,000 rivers and over 14,000 access points, most recently adding many rivers in Illinois, Ohio, Missouri and Indiana.

The River Training Center is new and developing on-demand webinars like one held recently about the River Access Planning Guide for folks interested in designing, redesigning or re-purposing a river access site as use and demand change or grow.  If you are interested in seeing the webinar, please email RMS at rms@river-management.org, for it was not yet posted at the time of this writing.

Hydropower License Summaries – Helpful to paddlers who have been involved as an advocate for recreational releases from a hydropower dam RMS.  Hydro licenses are beasts, often 150-200 pages in length, and these summaries provide easily digestible ‘Cliff Notes’ versions which allow project stakeholders to learn their basic provisions, like the organizations involved with their negotiations and the days and times of annual scheduled recreational releases. 

RMS is seeking new participation from the Midwest and its states which collectively boast so many wonderful recreational river miles.  We would love to help grow a posse of river stewards who work with each other and agencies to go a bit beyond simply enjoying the rivers by plowing the sometimes complicated issues related to insuring equitable access, managing use conflicts and paying for new or improved access for everyone who has discovered the joy of running rivers.

Please visit river-management.org to learn more about the organization and contact Risa Shimoda if you would like to help paddlers, managers and stewards share experiences and insure a healthy and wise management future for our rivers!  

Risa Shimoda, Executive Director

RMS River Access Planning Guide cover page

Forest Preserves of Cook County – Paddling Opportunities for Everyone

photo of people in canoe
2019 FPCC Paddlefest Skokie Lagoons

In 2019, the Forest Preserves District of Cook County provided numerous free opportunities for individuals, families, youth organizations, and academic institutions to partake in paddling events.  These programs were, and continue to be, available to constituents from all regions of Cook County.

The Greater Maywood Paddling Program provides chances for organized groups to connect to nature and water through kayaking experiences. Group leaders are presented a series of trainings on kayaking by Forest Preserves staff members. Upon completion, certified leaders will be able to access the Kayak Gear Lending Library to take their group members on paddling trips at Thatcher Glen Pond or along the 5.5-mile stretch of the Des Plaines River, starting at Maywood Grove and ending at Plank Road Meadow Boat Launch in Lyons.  Last year’s organizations included: Westchester Public Library, Austin Career Academy, Maywood Park District, Outdoor Afro, West Suburban Special Recreation, Opportunity Knocks, Oak Park River Forest High School, New Star Special Recreation Services, Proviso East High School, and Reavis High School.

Additional paddling events took place in various FPDCC regions.  The Ralph Frese Memorial Paddle, Sunrise Coffee and Canoe Cruise, and Fall Paddle Fest were features of the New Trier Township.  Evening paddles encouraged participants from the Elk Grove and Glenview villages, while the Des Plaines Canoe and Kayak Marathon paddled through surrounding towns from Lake County to Mount Prospect.  The greater Elgin area had the chance to paddle the pond at Rolling Knolls.  The southern end of Cook County had the opportunity to get on the water during the Little Calumet River Cleanup, Kids Fest at Wampum Lake, and Beubien Festival at Flatfoot Lake.

Tim Mondl
Outdoor Recreation Program Coordinator-North Zone Department of Conservation & Recreation Programming
O: 708-386-4042 EXT 26 • C: 224-456-8602 Timothy.Mondl@cookcountyil.gov
1140 Lake Street, Suite #309 • Oak Park, IL 60301

fpdcc.com | facebook.com/fpdcc | twitter.com/fpdcc

The Newest Best Tactic for Reaching the Un-Reachables

Logo of Water Sports FoundationA small non-profit is making bold moves to reduce senseless paddlesports casualties

For more than five years, I’ve been trying to learn exactly how so many people perish while enjoying paddlesports.  According to the U.S. Coast Guard’s 2019 Recreational Boating Statistics report, 613 Americans died while boating.  Of them, 167 died while participating in canoeing, kayaking, standup-paddleboarding, row-boating and on inflatables.  While overall boating deaths have declined for three straight years, paddlesports deaths have increased!  

By comparison, paddlesports doesn’t involve high rates of speed, spinning propellers, dangerous carbon monoxide or flammable fluids like its recreational powerboat cousin, yet horrifically, nearly one-out-of-every-three boating deaths are paddlers. 

With the help of the U.S. Coast Guard, the Water Sports Foundation determined that, of paddlesports deaths, nearly 75% of paddlers had less than 100 hours of experience (when level of experience was known) and the figure remains just below 45% for deaths where the paddler had less than 10 hours of experience.  

This information supports the theory that the majority of paddlesports accidents and deaths occur with paddlers who have very little paddling experience.  It makes sense, right?  More experienced paddlers understand the inherent risks involved in paddlesports and they mitigate them.   It’s probably also true that, in general, more experienced paddlers visit paddlesports pro shops, are members of paddling clubs and enjoy paddlesports media content. 

But newcomers to the sport who have not yet joined a club or subscribed to paddlesports content are nearly impossible to reach.   In fact, one recreational boating safety specialist refers to them as the “un-reachables.”

Over the past ten years, paddlesports has seen explosive growth, especially in kayaking and stand-up-paddleboarding.  According to the Outdoor Foundation’s most recent Outdoor Participation Report, in 2018, 34.9 million Americans participated in paddlesports.  This figure represents a 26.9% increase over 2010 participants, which were measured at 27.5 million.  

Much of this growth has been fueled by relatively inexpensive kayaks and SUP’s being sold through discount big box and club stores such as Dick’s Sporting Goods, Tractor Supply, Walmart, Sam’s Club and Costco, just to name a few.  

Earlier in the decade, as manufacturers found ways to mass-produce kayaks at low price points, the big box and club stores saw an opportunity to cash-in by selling them.  It’s not absurd to think that many of these purchases were made on an impulse decision to buy and no research was involved.  

The problem is that millions of new paddlesports participants were fed onto our waterways each year with no instruction on safety such as, understanding the U.S. Coast Guard carriage requirements including the need for an approved life jacket, the importance of taking a safe paddling course or, simply understanding the inherent risks of paddlesports. 

For more than ten years the Water Sports Foundation (WSF) has been a recreational boating safety outreach partner with the U.S. Coast Guard and since 2011, the WSF has received more than seven million dollars in non-profit federal grants.  The funding is specifically designed for outreach campaigns that are designed to increase awareness of safer boating and paddling practices.  During the period, nearly 200 video PSA’s were developed and distributed by America’s most popular boating and paddling media companies producing nearly one billion media impressions. 

Most recently, the WSF embarked on a new safety crusade to invite executives of America’s top retailers to join the conversation on paddlesports safety.  On June 8, 2020, forty-four letters were sent to top executives and board of directors’ members of ten of the nation’s largest re-sellers of recreational paddlesports equipment including stores that you recently shopped.  They include Academy Sports & Outdoors, Bass Pro Shops, BJ’s Wholesale, Cabela’s, Costco Wholesale, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Dunham’s Athleisure, Sam’s Club, Tractor Supply, and Walmart.

The letter was co-signed by five independent recreational safety organizations including the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA), BoatUS, the American Canoe Association (ACA), the Life Jacket Association, and the WSF.   

The letter includes a supporting quote from Verne Gifford, U.S. Coast Guard Office of Recreational Boating Safety Division Chief who said, “Our direct-to-consumer outreach campaigns are changing the boating culture and in recent years they’ve helped to reduce the number of fatalities, but newcomers to paddling who have not yet joined a club, an association or subscribed to paddle sports content are very difficult to reach. Having retail partners that are willing to help inform new paddlers of basic safety knowledge would be extremely helpful for our continuing efforts to reduce casualties.” 

The letter goes on to share details on the number of America’s paddlesports deaths and then encourages the retailer to join the safety conversation and to help reduce senseless deaths.  See the entire letter on Facebook.com.

Results of the effort are not yet compiled as tracking notifications of delivery have only recently been received.  The WSF has high hopes that one day, representatives of the world’s largest kayak and SUP retail establishments will get involved and help develop solutions that avoid senseless paddlesports deaths.  The campaign’s internal motto is “Repeat Customers are Good for Business!”  With some luck and a little help from others, perhaps this will be the year that the trend in paddlesports deaths will be reversed.

For more information or to join the fight to reduce senseless paddlesports casualties, please contact Jim Emmons, Non-profit Outreach Grants Director at the Water Sports Foundation, 407-719-8062.

 

Recreate Responsibly on the Fabulous Fox! Water Trail

bow of kayak in waterDuring the past several weeks, we have been advised to get outside regularly for fresh air and exercise while abiding by public health guidelines and logical restrictions to our beloved public open spaces. As these restrictions are gradually lifted, let’s celebrate being able to freely enjoy the outdoors!

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in changes to our routines and limited our options as we navigate our day-to-day lives. According to the Emotional Well-Being During COVID-19 Pandemic brochure posted on the Kane County Health Department website, there are “normal physical, emotional, mental and behavioral reactions to the abnormal situation of the COVID-19 pandemic.” Being outside can have a variety of physical and mental benefits and help us cope with the “abnormal situation” of the COVID-19 pandemic.

While we should always focus on our mental and physical health, we can’t forget about the economic health of our local communities! Locally owned businesses recycle a much larger share of their revenue and resources back into the local economy, enriching the whole community.  Support local restaurants and grocery stores by picking up a healthy meal for your trip.  Who isn’t hungry after walking, biking or paddling?  A visit to a historical/cultural site can be a nice compliment to an outdoor activity. There are many businesses and historical/cultural opportunities within walking distance of public open spaces throughout Kane County. So, go outside and give your senses a treat. Watch the seasons change; listen to the birds; smell the blooming flowers; touch the bark on the trees. Smile and laugh as you enjoy the benefits of being outdoors!

One of Kane County’s greatest open space assets is the Fox River. Not only is the Fox River a significant linkage within the green infrastructure network; municipalities have recognized the Fox River as an open space and community amenity by acquiring riverfront acreage and designing river walks to link housing, parks, forest preserves, shops, offices and restaurants in their downtowns.

Stakeholders along the entire length of the Fox River from the headwaters in Wisconsin to the confluence with the Illinois River in Ottawa, Illinois are developing the Fabulous Fox! Water Trail to provide suitable access for the public to enjoy quiet and active recreation, scenic beauty, abundant wildlife, and historical and cultural features. 

In addition to information about safety, paddlers can find printable maps of 14 segments of the Fox River; information about amenities and the over 80 access sites along the River, making it easy to plan a trip.

Consider a paddling trip on the Fox River, but before you venture out, please follow the six guidelines offered by the Recreating Responsibly Coalition:

reminders for safe recreating during pandemicFabulous Fox Water Trail Logo

A New Canoe/Kayak Launch is in the future for DuPage!

Image of Graue MillBy Connie Schmidt 

There is a proposal for a dam removal project on Salt Creek at Fullersburg Woods. Over the past 18 months, the DuPage River Salt Creek Work Group (DRSCWG) has been preparing a Master Plan for Salt Creek at Fullersburg, which includes dam removal, and over a mile of stream restoration. The draft Master Plan is now complete and they are ready to present it to the public and solicit comments . 

There will be two live webinars on July 7 at 7 pm and July 9 at 11 am to view the presentation for the upgrades. Registration is required and can be done through the www.restoresaltcreek.org website.  If anyone cannot attend, the webinars will be recorded and posted on the RestoreSaltCreek website for viewing later.  

In addition, contacting the Forest Preserve of DuPage board of Commissioners is important.  They are the decision makers on this project as they own the property.  Here is a link for them: https://www.dupageforest.org/our-board/board-commissioners  

There are many benefits to removing the dam: improving water quality in Salt Creek, restoring fish and macroinvertebrate biodiversity, increasing access to recreational and educational opportunities, and saving taxpayers millions of dollars through this cost-effective approach to improving water quality and stream habitats. A canoe/kayak launch is planned along the river at this point as well.  

It is important to know that the historic Graue Mill and its operations will be preserved; and in fact, arguably enhanced with improved aesthetics from stream bank restoration and the planned additional amenities such as a canoe/kayak launch that will attract more people to the site. 

This project is part of the DRSCWG’s Special Condition and is the last project remaining on the TMDL Alternative Plan (Dam removals at Churchill Woods and Oak Meadows are already completed). It is very difficult to see how a satisfactory fish population can be established on Salt Creek while the Graue dam remains intact. 

You can visit (and share) the www.restoresaltcreek.org website for additional information. 

In addition, please go to this site and sign a petition for this project to be completed.  https://act.sierraclub.org/actions/Illinois?actionId=AR0272531 

News Release: New Paddlecraft Safety Effort Starts at the Water’s Edge

stop sign with pfd; always wear your life jacket
USCGA Safety Sign

Canoeists and kayakers may soon see a red safety sign posted at launch ramps and other water access areas across the country. The new safety sign is part of an ongoing effort to reduce the number of paddle sport fatalities.  USCG Recreational Boating Statistics show that, between 2013 and 2018, an average of 133 paddlers died each year – nearly a quarter of all boating deaths.  The vast majority of these paddlers were not wearing a lifejacket and drowned.    

The sign resembles a stop sign and carries a simple message – Stop. Always Wear Your Life Jacket.  “The purpose of this program is to remind paddlers that the single most important factor in preventing drowning is to wear an appropriate life jacket,” said Robert E. Kumpf, of the Coast Guard Auxiliary.  

The Coast Guard Auxiliary, the National Safe Boating Council, the Water Sports Foundation, and regional paddling organizations have worked together to promote paddlecraft safety. For more information about the Coast Guard Auxiliary’s paddlecraft safety programs please visit the Recreational Boating Safety Outreach Directorate’s website by clicking the link.

The Coast Guard Auxiliary is the uniformed civilian component of the U.S. Coast Guard and supports the Coast Guard in nearly all mission areas. The Auxiliary was created by Congress in 1939. For more information, please visit www.cgaux.org 

Recreational Boating Statistics

Email

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Coast Guard has released its 2019 Recreational Boating Statistics Report, revealing that there were 613 boating fatalities nationwide in 2019, a 3.2 percent decrease from 2018.

From 2018 to 2019, the total number of accidents increased 0.6 percent (4,145 to 4,168), and the number of non-fatal injured victims increased 1.9 percent (2,511 to 2,559).

Alcohol continued to be the leading known contributing factor in fatal boating accidents in 2019, accounting for over 100 deaths, or 23 percent of total fatalities.

The report also shows that in 2019:
• The fatality rate was 5.2 deaths per 100,000 registered recreational vessels, which tied as the second lowest rate in the program’s history. This rate represents a 1.9 percent decrease from last year’s fatality rate of 5.3 deaths per 100,000 registered recreational vessels.
• Property damage totaled about $55 million.
• Operator inattention, improper lookout, operator inexperience, excessive speed, and alcohol use ranked as the top five primary contributing factors in accidents.

Where the cause of death was known, 79 percent of fatal boating accident victims drowned. Of those drowning victims with reported life jacket usage, 86 percent were not wearing a life jacket.

Capt. Scott Johnson, chief of the Office of Auxiliary and Boating Safety at Coast Guard Headquarters, cited one case in November, in which a party of eight in Indiana attempted to cross the White River in a 14-ft boat. Overloaded, it capsized sending occupants into the water. Five perished from drowning as a result, including a 6-year old child. None of the victims were wearing a life jacket.

“It’s critical for boaters to wear a life jacket at all times because it very likely will save your life. Ensure that it is serviceable, properly sized, and correctly worn.” Johnson noted that sometimes victims had not fastened their life jacket properly, or had not replaced the expired cartridge in their inflatable life jacket. In one case, the cartridge had been modified, making it ineffective as a lifesaving device.

Where boating instruction was known, 70 percent of deaths occurred on vessels where the operator had not received boating safety instruction. The Coast Guard recommends that all boaters take a boating safety course that meets the National Boating Education Standards prior to getting out on the water.

The most common vessel types involved in reported accidents were open motorboats, personal watercraft, and cabin motorboats. Where vessel type was known, the vessel types with the highest percentage of deaths were open motorboats (48 percent), kayaks (14 percent), and personal watercraft (8 percent).

The Coast Guard reminds all boaters to boat responsibly on the water: wear a life jacket, take a boating safety course, attach the engine cut-off switch, get a free vessel safety check, and boat sober.

“We praise our boating safety partners,” said Johnson. “Together we strive to reduce loss of life, injuries and property damage by increasing the knowledge and skill of recreational boaters.”

Little Calumet River Cleanup Video

Check out this video about the Little Calumet River Cleanup!

https://youtu.be/_zfoc_kjkaw

Michael Taylor, Steward of the Little Calumet River in Illinois had a busy day at Kickapoo Woods. First, he was co-hosting the cleanup along with the Forest Preserves of Cook County, Openlands, and the Illinois Paddling Council. Later in the day he lead free kayak and canoe training for residents from around the Riverdale area.

The Little Calumet River has a west and an east arm. Kickapoo Woods borders it’s west arm in Riverdale. The river flows over 100 miles through the towns of Portage, Lake Station, Gary, Highland, Griffith, Munster, and Hammond, and in Illinois – South Holland, Dolton, Lansing, Calumet City, Harvey, Riverdale, Phoenix, Dixmoor, Burnham, and Blue Island. https://fpdcc.com/places/locations/ki…

A presentation of Calumet Films, video by Most Visual. http://mostvis.com