Home » Archives for JS » Page 2

Author: JS

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

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

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

IT’S OUR FOX RIVER DAY

On Saturday, September 19, 2020, Friends of the Fox River will coordinate a cleanup on the entire Fox River from Waukesha, Wisconsin to the confluence in Ottawa, Illinois. We encourage individuals, groups and organizations to run a clean-up along the river, but some other ways to help and celebrate the river include, but are not limited to, a canoe clean-up, bike trail clean-up, a family creek walk, birding, fishing, paddling, riverside yoga, a community water blessing, art making, or a river photography workshop. Creative, and fun, all ages community events and celebrations are what will make “It’s Our Fox River Day” a strong tradition in all our communities

https://friendsofthefoxriver.org/fox-river-days-riverbank-cleanups-and-riverside-celebrations/

WORLD PADDLING FILM FESTIVAL SEPT 26 – University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee

The Paddling Film Festival selection of films was stellar again this year. Many terrific films were considered as shortlist contenders. The Paddling Film Festival committee has narrowed down these submissions to a shortlist of 26 films that will be toured around the world as the 2019 Paddling Film Festival World Tour.

The 10 award-winning and 16 shortlisted films are now eligible for the Aqua-Bound People’s Choice Award. Click here for the current World Tour schedule to attend a screening and cast your vote for the best film of the year. No tour stops scheduled near you? Click here to learn more about bringing the Wrld Tour to your town, theatre, club, shop or event.

https://www.paddlingfilmfestival.com/world-tour/386-hosted-by-university-of-wisconsin-milwaukee-outdoor-pursuits.html?date=2019-09-26-19-00

NUTRIENT POLLUTION IN WATER WAYS – A REQUEST FROM PRAIRIE RIVERS NETWORK TO THE PADDLING COMMUNITY

Prairie Rivers Network is continuing to work on shining a light on the nutrient pollution work of a broader coalition of groups with interests in reducing nutrient pollution in Illinois. This will include putting together some media posts about how nutrient pollution affects a variety of interests beyond agriculture groups or The Gulf. We might also like to put together a letter to legislators about the broader impact of nutrient pollution in Illinois.

We’d like to include the IL Paddling Council’s members. Please send Catie your experience on how nutrient pollution affects your paddling experience.

Catie Gregg

Agriculture Programs Specialist

Prairie Rivers Network

Illinois Affiliate of the National Wildlife Federation

1605 South State St, Suite 1, Champaign, IL 61820

prairierivers.org

PADDLING WITH DISABLED VETERANS

Team River Runner

Jennifer Hahn, RT

TRR Central USA Regional Coordinator

TRR Decatur Chapter Coordinator

ACA Illinois State Director

ACA L2 Kayaking Instructor, APW Endorsement

The Southern Illinois Team River Runner (SOIL TRR) chapter is officially paddling as of August 30, 2019.  Team River Runner is a non-profit national organization that assists disabled veterans and their families in paddle sports.

Over the weekend, Team River Runner chapter members from Decatur, St Louis, and Columbia met for a fun weekend of paddling on the Little Grassy Lake at Touch of Nature.  A total of 97 paddlers, volunteers, and family members participated.

The SIUC accessible camp was the perfect setting to host the new paddlers. The weekend paddle was sponsored by H3F, Heroes Helping Heroes Foundation of Decatur, IL.  Kayak instruction during the day consisted of determining type of kayak, fit, and basics on water instruction.  Saturday night of the event we hosted a glow paddle.  For most, it was the first time they have ever paddled at night.  The star filled sky was perfectly paired with glowing kayaks and paddlers. “This is the most comfortable I’ve felt in a long time”,My family and I are very thankful for having this opportunity to learn paddling skills,” and “I never thought I would be kayaking after my injury,” are a few of the comments made by the veterans over the weekend.

For more information on Team River Runner, check out https://www.teamriverrunner.org/

Team River Runner