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Category: Access and Water Trails Development

Thank you: Friends of the Pecatonica

For the great job you have been doing for the last decade and more to make the Pecatonica Illinois’s Friendliest Paddle and more! Please share how you accomplished all with IPC in an article for the next newsletter. We have many rivers in our state that could benefit by having a “Friends of ???? River,” so having your guidance on how you achieved your success would be wonderful.

And – for everyone reading this –  enjoy the FPRF Dec Newsletter.

The Fox River Deserves National Recognition

By Greg Taylor  

So, how many of you have ever paddled on a National River Water Trail? Well, there is a fair chance, if you have lived here in Illinois for a while and paddled different rivers to experience all that the Midwest has to offer. You might have!  The Rock, in north central Illinois, flowing from Wisconsin; The Kankakee, southeast of Chicago; and, part of The Ol’ Man, The Big Muddy, “The Mississippi,” down by St. Louis, are the only ones within 200 miles of Chicago. So, what is a National River Water Trail you ask? Well, if you Google it, it’s all there in color and a wealth of info I’ll leave you to have fun discovering. A quick snap shot is that a “Water Trail is a river or section that meets Federal standards for accessibility and positive human use.” I know that can be a loaded statement these days, heck almost any time in human History, but it’s getting better the more everyone realizes that we all need rivers that are for “positive human use” meaning, everyone agrees to its positive use.

Fox River Ecosystem Partnership, aka “FREP,” is currently moving forward to obtain Federal recognition for the Fox through the National Park Service, which is overseen by the Department of the Interior. The Wisconsin side has been mapped and is in the planning stages already; some of its infrastructure is already in place. Now it’s our turn. I’m assuming many of you have paddled some part of the Fox. If you haven’t, you’re missing a gorgeously calm, relaxing, and picturesque river. And it turns out an ancient river. There are dells on the lower Fox like the ones up in Wisconsin with the Ducks river tours – except you don’t have to pay, as you see them free. Only your desire and sense of adventure are needed. I’m sure there are other attributes that exist on the Fox, and that is why – and what – I am writing about and asking for here. I am the Volunteer Coordinator for ground-truthing the Illinois side of the Water Trail Certification. We are in the process of developing the tools that will be used for data submission. Currently, the options are to submit the data and observations through Google Drive, using smart phones or tablets or printing out a paper copy to submit. This is an easy one for anyone to enjoy and experience. Just enter the river, enjoy the paddle down stream, camping if there are areas that are clearly understood as camping spots, stop for lunch, site-see, whatever you find that you can enjoy or think others might find interesting. The more the better. Exit the river and fill out a short checklist and opinion survey, and you have just become part of a National Water Trail Certification process. That’s it. I’m looking into a token of gratitude item, something like a safety whistle with the water trail insignia on it, or something along those lines. We’ll see what I can push for. Stay tuned.

So that’s it. This is a long time coming. I know Ralph Frese started talking about this back in the mid-sixties for basically the same reasons and more than that we are working towards now. One step at a time, and this will come to fruition. Stay tuned, this should be a fun one.

Dam Removal on the Lower Des Plaines – A History

By Don Mueggenborg

Lower Des Plaines

Thinking about Wally (story on my bucket list) brought back some memories.

The Des Plaines is – or is on its way – to being dam free. Story about the removal of the first two dams on the lower Des Plaines.

Dam in Lemont. I have seen pictures of people paddling and swimming above a dam in Lemont. Just before WW II, they wanted to put a pipeline across the river someplace above the dam. There were objections and an injunction was issued, but could not be served on a Sunday. The dam was removed with the idea that it would be rebuilt by the WPA or CCC (depression-era government employment programs).

However, the timing was bad. WW II started, WPA and CCC were ended, and the dam never was rebuilt.

Dam in Lockport. Two men drowned while paddling downstream of 135th Street. They were found below the dam in Lockport. The dam was owned by Material Service and, of course, a lawsuit was filed.

Enter Wally and his friends. They were in the area, coming up to paddle from the Peoria area. When they got to the dam, they were stopped by a security guard and sheriff’s police and told to paddle back upstream. If they got out of their canoes, they would be trespassing. Finally they were escorted off the property.

Wally called Ralph Frese who asked me to paddle with him and some lawyers to look over the site.

The lawyers asked if I would be an expert witness and would I say that they drowned going over the unmarked dam. When I said “probably” drowned going over the dam, they did not call me.

Later I met with people from Material Service who said they would remove the dam when the lawsuit was dropped.   They cleared a place to portage the dam more easily after the meeting.

Eventually the lawsuit was dropped and the dam removed. However, the easy takeout below the dam was suddenly off limits, as the Sanitary district put up “no parking” signs.

The effect of the dam removal. Faster water upstream and more water below the dam at “fishnet rapids.” It made it a better place to paddle, but the “no parking” signs made it a longer trip. Takeout at Lockport Prairie Forest Preserve or in Joliet.

Illinois’s Friendliest Paddle: Pecatonica River

By Don Mueggenborg

I just took a trip on the most crooked river in Illinois.   I hardly believed the bends and switchbacks.

This is November, I really didn’t paddle the river, I checked out the map on the internet.

Over the years, I have paddled and raced the Pec – I think I paddled all of it from the state line, through Freeport to the city of Pecatonica, to the Two Rivers landing.   Not at one time, but in stretches.

What do you find on the Pec?

First of all, you can see the work of a dedicated group of people who have built some pretty good canoe landings. Bobtown Landing and Damascus Landing, to name a couple.

Not too many years ago, one of the paddlers from the area ran into a problem with rules and regulations. You had to get permission ahead of time to use the park boat landing.  When he tried to take out after paddling, he found out about the law.  He and his friends decided to change things.

They asked for IPC input to convince the local authorities that this was not a good thing. (They also served on the IPC board)

Then they went ahead and started improving the landing sites on the river. They have been successful beyond their dreams.

They hold an annual race on the Pec also.

Second, you find a peaceful winding river. Not many road crossings, not many buildings, just miles of stream to paddle and enjoy.  Of course there is the wildlife – birds, deer.

Just the place for a get-away.

Use your maps, and you can paddle downstream and bike back to your vehicle over a trail or country roads.

If you encounter locals, they will be friendly.

Illinois’s Friendliest Paddle (video): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_GqfjnQk-U4

 

  • Trip #1 – 6.2 miles – Brewster Landing to McConnell Bobtown Landing
  • Trip #2 – 7.9 miles – McConnell Bobtown Landing to McNeil’s Damascus Landing
  • Trip #3 – 8 miles – McNeil’s Damascus Landing to Wes Block Trail Head
  • Trip #4 – 6.2 miles – Wes Block Trail Head to Tutty’s Crossing in Freeport
  • Trip #5 – 1/2 mile or 3 mile – Tutty’s Crossing to Hancock Ave Boat Ramp or VFW
  • Trip #6 – 16 miles – Hancock Ave Boat Ramp to Ridott Fishing Park
  • Trip #7 – 7 miles – Ridott Fishing Park to Atten’s Landing
  • Trip #8 – 7 miles – Atten’s Landing to Pecatonica Village Park

 

Calling / Requesting / Soliciting All Paddlesport Event Organizers

With this year’s paddling season drawing to a close – except for some die-hard paddlers that love breaking ice – it is time to think about next year.

IPC has an events calendar where we list all paddlesports-related events we become aware of. This also helps in promoting your event(s).

If you are a paddlesport event organizer, or know someone who is – whether a competition/race, a river cleanup, a paddling festival or any other event involving paddlesport – canoe/kayak/SUP/raft- on a river, lake,  bayou (ok – we may not have some here in Illinois) – please forward such information to

news@illinoispaddling.org – or to spconsult@comcast.net

We would like to compile a master list for next year’s events to publish in upcoming newsletters with details (so include background on – and details of – the event). Hopefully, we can also avoid having major events take place on the same weekend.

If you have any questions, please forward these to spconsult@comcast.net

Thank you – Sigrid Pilgrim, Director, PR & Marketing

Great Rivers of Chicago Roundtable Discussion

In early September of this year, advance word was distributed to a myriad of Chicago area organizations of a pending presentation of interest to those concerned with the future of Chicago’s three river systems: the Chicago River, the Calumet River, and the Des Plaines River. This presentation in late September was in effect a report of studies and discussions over recent years coordinated by the Chicago’s Metropolitan Planning Council and directed towards enhancing multiple uses of these urban waterways. In attendance at this Roundtable Discussion were around one hundred representatives from public and private organizations, including “yours truly” from the Illinois Paddling Council. While I doubt that heretofore many, if any, IPC members were aware of this developing study and planning effort, I am glad to report on what I have learned about the intended future of our “Great Rivers.”

Study objectives over the next 25 years include development of enhanced recreational use of these rivers and their adjoining shorelines, including paddlesport and even swimming. Indeed, there are some individuals now swimming in sections of these rivers, including some of the planning study leadership. In some other cities which now include radiation in the treatment of their wastewater, river swimming is even more commonplace.

However, enhanced and varied recreational opportunity is not the only objective of the planning effort. Some sections of all three of these rivers will provide for transportation of both people and enhanced barge traffic. Still other sections will evolve into increased residential, industrial, park land, commercial usage or in some cases, remain as forested riverfront for both human recreation and colonization by wildlife. The Metropolitan Planning Council is hoping now to expand and organize further the development of these riverfront resources.

Unaware in the 1970s and 80s that formal governmental interest was developing in the retention of a portion of this forested riverfront, some of the paddlesport community nevertheless became involved in the Cook County Clean Streams Committee. This group consisted of both river preservationists and government representatives who met monthly at Forest Preserve Headquarters to alert one another to sources of stream pollution and the accumulation of natural and man-made debris and to seek resolution of these intrusions on what few examples of “municipal wilderness” remained.

More recently, Don Mueggenborg and I have appeared at several meetings of the Forest Preserves of Cook County Board (aka the Cook County Board) to present requests on behalf of the IPC and the Des Plaines Marathon for removal of lingering low rise dams and the enactment of other measures to enhance use by the paddlesport community. Friends of the Chicago River has been a vigorous member of the Metropolitan Planning Commission and has very effectively engaged the public in river involvement and advocacy, as has the Chicago Harbor Safety Committee.

What Next? We all need to watch for word of further activity by the Metropolitan Planning Commission and offer whatever opinions and input we can muster! This planning effort is not solely an attempt to convert the 150 plus miles of the Chicago, Des Plaines, and Calumet Rivers within Chicago to the equivalent of wild and scenic rivers. Rather, it is an effort to work together to coordinate the planning and enactment of associated residential, industrial, transportation, and recreational uses along those many miles of riverfront.

And so, with all of this river-related Chicago planning underway on many fronts, what new projects were announced at the Roundtable for which public or private interests are actively moving ahead? Well, for the moment, none that I could tell. However, one idea expressed that seemed relatively possible to a non-planner like me was the establishment of barge-based floating cafes or theaters to attract more people to more sections of rivers than provided by current tour boats and canoe/kayak rental and launching sites. The potential interest of more people with more money and more imagination being exposed to a river does increase the likelihood of outcomes consistent with this planning.

Meanwhile, Lake County Forest Preserve has removed the two remaining low-rise dams on its Des Plaines River, rendering the DP River Canoe and Kayak Marathon dam-free for the first time in its 60-year-history.

We can certainly be grateful for the participation in this discussion of Josh Ellis, a Director of the Metropolitan Planning Council and leader of the Roundtable Discussion, and the four discussion panelists: Kim Wasserman-Nieto of the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization, John Quail – Director of Watershed Planning for Friends of the Chicago River, Arnold Randall – Superintendent of the Forest Preserves of Cook County, and David Reifman – Commissioner for the Chicago Department of Planning and Development.

…. Jack Snarr

Congratulations To The Friends Of The Pecatonica Foundation

For Winning the American Canoe Association’s Green Paddle for Waterway Conservation Award

green paddle

There once was a creek in Freeport

Yellow was its name

And paddlers needed to report

When launching a canoe in the same

A written permit was needed

To put in a river just knee deep

So for help they came asking

And dozens of letters were tasking

The City Officials for permits

When one of them finally said “That’s it –

no more written requests to go paddling.”

And even a launch site was opened.

Which was more than the paddlers had hopened!  (it had to rhyme)

And the rest is history!

This was the beginning of the involvement of Joe Ginger, Lee Butler, Roger Schamberger, and the many friends who eventually formed www.paddlethepec.com  and the Friends of the Pecatonica Foundation (http://pecriver.org/) to help restore, appreciate and celebrate, a nearby river – the Pecatonica.

Their efforts over the past decade are deservedly recognized by the American Canoe Association with their Green Paddle for Waterway Conservation Award.

CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL OF THE FRIENDS OF THE PECATONICA FOUNDATION

Check out the Friendliest Paddle in Illinois here, and join the Friends on one of the many trips they offer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Friends of the Pecatonica River Foundation: Meeting Thursday, November 17, 2016

RE: You are invited to our Meeting—Please Join Us!

Dear Friends, Members, Supporters, Prospective Members & the Good People that are always there to help:

LENA, ILLINOIS; The Friends of the Pecatonica River Foundation will be meeting Thursday, November 17, 2016, at 7:00 pm at The Rafter’s Restaurant & Catering, 9426 W. Wagner Road, Lena, Illinois 61048.  The meeting will be held in the Cafe’ Dining Room with our fearless leader, President, Joe Ginger presiding.  Great atmosphere and POPCORN! The Friends of the Pecatonica River Foundation is a Not-for-Profit organization that is dedicated to improving all 58 miles of your Pecatonica River experience.  This includes access, education, wildlife habitat, log jam extrication and river clean-up for the human communities in Stephenson County.

Be sure to pick up the all new Second Edition of the Pecatonica River post card book. It is available at The Red Barn & Natural Healing  Express – Lena for $12.00.  We will have them at our meeting.  Another collector book created by Joe Ginger with autographs only available at our meeting.  We will be discussing our upcoming paddling events, races and more.  Free Canoe & kayak trips.  Come check us out.

The fun & fishing is great on your 10,000 year old river and the Wildlife viewing is even better.  Our organization is a fun “hands on” group that is making great things happen.  We encourage you to attend our meeting and consider becoming a member.  The membership fee is reasonable and the rewards are many.  Everyone is welcome.

Sincerely,

Friends of the Pecatonica River Foundation

 

Roger Schamberger

Government Liaison

rscham@hotmail.com

815-238-7888

Volunteer Coordinator Wanted

WI-IL FOX RIVER WATER TRAIL

Core Development Team

http://www.foxriverecosystem.org/trail.htm

Job Description

Volunteer Coordinator

Wisconsin-Illinois Fox River Water Trail Initiative

The Core Development Team of the Wisconsin-Illinois Fox River Water Trail Initiative is looking for an unpaid coordinator or coordinators to collect data along the Illinois portion of the Fox River. Coordinators may choose to work with volunteers along the entire length of the Fox River in Illinois or work in one of the following counties: McHenry, Lake, Kane, Kendall and LaSalle Counties.

The Core Development Team (CDT) emerged from a partnership to develop the Wisconsin-Illinois Fox River Water Trail with technical assistance from the National Park Service Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program.

The CDT, tasked with developing the Wisconsin-Illinois Fox River Water Trail is in the process of collecting data for river segments, access points, and dams along the Fox River. The Team is looking for an unpaid coordinator or coordinators interested in working with other volunteers and the CDT to collect this data along the Illinois portion of the Fox River. Several organizations and individuals have expressed interest in collecting the data. The Coordinator or Coordinators will be responsible for reaching out to these potential volunteers, providing them with information about the criteria and process used to collect the data and ensuring that data is entered into the spreadsheet. Data collection forms will be available online via smart phone, tablet or paper. Once data is entered it will automatically be stored in the database.

Interested individuals please contact Karen Ann Miller, co-chair, Core Development Team at millerkaren@co.kane.il.us or (630)232-3418 by Friday September 23rd.

Kankakee River – Latest National Waterway

By Don Mueggenborg 

It took a while, but the Kankakee has been named a National Waterway.

The process started about 10,000 years ago when the melting glacier broke through the moraines holding it back from Lake Erie (wasn’t called Lake Erie then). A wall of water surged forward, carving out a wide valley and leaving a great wetland.

The wetland attacked many forms of wildlife – called by some the “Everglades of the North.” Through this wetland flowed a river. The natives called it the Aukiki or Theatiki or Kankakee.

The river flowed through Indiana and Illinois. A beautiful stream, clear water.

In the 1600’s and 1700’s, Voyageurs used the river as a highway. LaSalle and Tonti used this river as a main route between Montreal and Mackinaw Island to the Illinois River. A short, flat portage at South Bend the only obstacle, it would have been a national waterway, but we had no nation. Later in Indiana, it would become a hunting favorite for Presidents and dignitaries from Europe. In Illinois, the backwaters housed bank robbers and horse thieves.

Now, another 100 years later, the Kankakee River has been named a National Waterway. Most of the channelized portions in Indiana have been taken over by nature. Wooded banks, beaver, fish, deer and a good river to paddle. In Illinois, where the river was not channelized, there are more bends, and a faster current.

Unlike some major rivers, the Kankakee does not flow through many major urban areas, so it is often tree lined and natural.

I have paddled sections of the Kankakee in Indiana and the length of the river in Illinois.

Fun, scenic with public access points close enough to make a pleasant trip. As the river flows into Illinois, the current increases. Immediately, the river bends and curves.

My favorite section is above Momence. A paddle to the state line and back might take three hours – but if you start at the state line (car shuttle), it is a fast, good trip. The river meanders and bends, and sand bars at the bends will take up ½ the river. Read the river and enjoy.

The most popular section is from Bird Park in Kankakee to Warner Bridge, Kankakee State Park. Canoes, tubers float past. Some river reading will keep your feet dry. Neat island and sandstone cliffs along the way.

You can paddle the whole length of the river in both Indiana and Illinois. There are frequent public access sites.

CAUTION: Some laws you should observe.

Momence – no canoes on the island (access on east side of island)

Kankakee – you cannot portage at the dam (portage at the park a block or so before the dam – river left)

Wilmington – you cannot portage the dam (run the mill race river right and then portage down the hill)

The Kankakee meets the Des Plaines at Dresden, and becomes the Illinois River.

KANKAKEE RIVER MEMORY

Shortly after we started canoe racing, my friend Dave (Peanut Butter) heard about a race on the Kankakee in Indiana. No racing canoes.

We brought our Sawyer Cruiser and immediately saw that we were in a different class than most of the boats. Aluminum canoes with young men in their late teens and early twenties were our competition.

A local “Boys” club had bought a voyageur canoe and were hoping to raise some money to pay off the purchase. The young men were either part of the club or alumni.

A la mans start – run across the parking lot – left us way behind. Shortly after the start, a boat dumped. We helped them and their canoe to shore, paddled downstream, and returned with their paddles. And within twenty minutes or so, we had passed everyone.

We were actually embarrassed, but apparently the spectators were not. At each bridge, spectators asked my wife, our pit crew, if the “old men” had come by yet (we were in our 40s). We would wait around bends for the other canoes so we did not finish too far ahead.

The finish was under a bridge on a rural road. A flat grassy area at the take-out.

1st place was a cash prize – $100. I took it, gave it to Dave, who counted it and gave it to the race sponsor.

BUT – THAT IS NOT THE END OF THE STORY.

Several years later, there was a re-enactment at the Kankakee Marsh County Park.

Things had changed – that rural road and grassy spot was now a nice county spot in the restored wetlands. Way to go, Indiana!

I saw a Park Ranger – a young man. “Years ago, there was a race on the river that ended here. Do they still have the race?” I asked.

The ranger replied. “We only held it one year and two old guys whipped us good!”

Then he added – “You’re one of them!”

And I felt good, not that he recognized me, but that one of the boys was now working as a park ranger to help preserve the river and wetlands, and that the state and county were working to preserve the area for the future.