Home » Archives for Tom Eckels

Author: Tom Eckels

President, Illinois Paddling Council
Program Manager, Water TrailKeepers



The FPCC will again hold their Fall Paddle Fest on the Skokie Lagoons – Saturday, October 12 (Rain Date Sunday, October 13).

Fox River Water Trail Organizers Seek Public Input

Monday, June 17 – Geneva at Kane County Government Center, 719 S. Batavia Ave.

Monday, June 24 – Yorkville at Hampton Inn, 310 E. Countryside Parkway

Friday, June 28 – McHenry at City of McHenry Rec Center, 333 S. Green St.

Geneva, Illinois   The Core Development Team (CDT) of the Fabulous Fox! River Water Trail will be hosting several workshops in June sharing the results of their efforts with volunteers who have paddled the river collecting data. The CDT will display maps of the trail identifying the access sites and amenities, and information about journeys on segments of the river. The CDT will also be seeking input from paddlers and others familiar with the river to review the information collected and share additional information that would help paddlers enjoy safe and pleasant experiences. The CDT will then do a gap analysis and provide recommendations to public landowners including county and municipal governments.

Three Illinois workshops have been scheduled with plans to hold a fourth one in an additional community along the river. Currently scheduled workshops:

Monday, June 17 – Geneva at Kane County Government Center, 719 S. Batavia Ave.

Monday, June 24 – Yorkville at Hampton Inn, 310 E. Countryside Parkway

Friday, June 28 – McHenry at City of McHenry Rec Center, 333 S. Green St.

The Fabulous Fox! River Water Trail has been in development for several years with organizers from two states working with the National Park Service, SE Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission and the Fox River Ecosystem Partnership

Volunteer paddlers assisted to collect data on access sites, journey segments, hazards, dams and portages, amenities at access sites, and more. The Core Development Team is ready to share the results of those efforts and look for input from stakeholders to share their knowledge of the river to help fill in gaps and other information before applying for inclusion in the National Water Trail System.

Please join us at the workshop closest to you to learn and share.

For more information, visit our developing website at https://fabulousfoxwatertrail.org/ or Karen Miller at millerkaren@co.kane.il.us (630)232-3418.

Your Article Goes Here


Our newsletter articles are submitted by our paddling constituents.  Please consider posting about your favorite places to paddle in Illinois, paddling events, competitions, environmental concerns to paddlers, etc.

The process is very easy.

  1.  If you don’t allready have one, create a user-account on our website
  2. Log in with your user account
  3. browse to http://www.illinoispaddling.info/newsletter-2/submit-newsletter-content/
  4. Follow the online prompts and submit your news letter.

Questions:  contact Tom Eckels president@illinoispaddling.org;


IPC Dinner Meeting

IPC Annual Dinner Meeting

October 26, 2019 – 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.


3 S 530 Second Street, Warrenville, IL 60555

Our annual meeting, election of officers, awards ceremony, dinner and presentation will take place at the Warrenville’s 1838 Hotel “The Colonel’s Tavern” a historic landmark of

Please RSVP if you plan to attend NO LATER THAN October 24, as we need to provide the restaurant an approximate count for the food needed. Dinner will be various pizzas, salad, and soft drinks, and dessert; no alcoholic beverages available



who paddled the 223 miles of the Fox River from its origins to the confluence.  About half the river is free flowing; the other half is impoundment pools created by dams: Beaver dams, concrete dams, at least 3 former dams, and 26 log jams. 8 days from a narrow rill to a broad river, the paddle on the Fabulous Fox River was a Bucket List item that did not disappoint.

We will also celebrate the www.FabulousFoxWaterTrail.org efforts



PADDLERS’ RIVER ACCESS and BAAD GRANTS an Exciting Update – Scott Hays


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!



by Don Muggenborg

Illinois has more miles of river to paddle than any other state.  Have you paddled these rivers?  Match the River with the correct definition.  Don’s Answers Will be published in the next newsletter.

1)   Abe’s River                                              A) Chicago River


2)  Where Ralph 1st paddled                           B) North Branch


3)  Named for a Fur Trader                            C) Skokie Lagoons


4)  Think Red                                                  D) Upper Des Plaines


5)   Name makes you want to blush              E) Lower Des Plaines


6)  Savory Creek                                             F) SaltCreek


7)  Furniture                                                   G) DuPage


8)  Newest River Trail                                     H) Kankakee


9)  Eating Utensil                                           I) Fox


10)  Marathon                                                 J) Rock


11)  Carp Fence (my river)                             k) Apple


12)  large stone                                               L) Vermillion


13)  named for a wild onion                           M) Green


14)  state named after it                                  N) Spoon


15)  Frese Trail                                               O) Bureau Creek


16)  small mammal                                         P) Sangamon


17)  dirty (?)                                                   Q) Big Muddy


18)  Discovered by Joliet                               R) Mississippi


19)  flows to eastern border                            S) Little Wabash


20)  named for an Indian Tribe                      T) Kaskaskia, Iroquois, Pecatonica, etc


21)  think grass                                               U) Embarrass (pronounced Ambraw)


22)  Fruit                                                         V) Illinois


Wilderness Inquiry’s Canoemobile returns to Chicago and Northwest Indiana

– October 6th: Indiana Dunes Outdoor Adventure Festival, 11:00 AM – 7:00 PM at Jerry Pavese Park

– October 20th: Wolf Lake Fall Fest, 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM at Wolf Lake Memorial Park

Canoemobile engages people in introductory outdoor experiences, enhances learning opportunities, cultivates a stewardship ethic, and creates pathways to pursue educational and career opportunities in the outdoors. We are thrilled to connect with your community!

Interested in volunteering? We’ll be working with school and youth groups all week; email canoemobile@wildernessinquiry.org for more information.

For more details – contact

Mary Mallinger, Program Coordinator
Wilderness Inquiry
www.wildernessinquiry.org • (612) 676-9422


US Government Reopens Boundary Waters Watershed

Almost a quarter-million acres of Superior National Forest lands that drain toward the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness will soon be available for mine proposals again, after being protected for the past 18 months.

Learn more about this issue by reading the Quetico Superior Wilderness News here

Read More


 by Sigrid Pilgrim

IDNR’S Coastal Management Program in collaboration with Wilderness Inquiry held three paddling programs this summer, giving the general public an opportunity to experience paddling in voyageur style canoes. The last event was held at Waukegan Harbor, which also inaugurated a new, ADA compliant, canoe and kayak launch.


From IDNR’s newsletter:

Thank you to our Explore the Lake Michigan Water Trail Partners!

On August 3, we celebrated the final Explore the Lake Michigan Water Trail event of 2018 at the new ADA accessible canoe and kayak launch in Waukegan Harbor. These family-focused events included guided, beginner-friendly paddling experiences, water safety demonstrations, fishing, nature crafts, walking tours of coastal habitats, and more – all provided by more than 25 local, state, and federal partners! These events would not have been possible without the support of the following agencies and organizations:

With the event series complete, we will begin a series of public meetings to gather community input as part of a visioning process for the approximately 10-mile stretch of the Lake Michigan water trail from the City of North Chicago to the Wisconsin border. For more information about the upcoming planning process, visit: https://paddleillinoiswatertrails.org/events.


By Steve LaPorte

I just became aware of a great tool for those of us who lead river trips.  Like most people, I have been looking at the USGS Streamflow data and the weather forecast and trying to guess what is going to happen with the river level.  It turns out that NOAA has a computer model that considers several relevant factors and makes a prediction, going several days out.  This is going to be a useful tool for anyone who has to make a go / no-go decision due to concern about high water.

To access the predictive graph, go to https://water.weather.gov/ahps/rfc/rfc.php , click on the region, and click on the gauging station.  You will get a graph like this.  (There is more useful information below the graph that wouldn’t fit on the image.)

Pass it on – happy to comply – thank you Steve