Home » Access and Water Trails Development » Page 2

Category: Access and Water Trails Development

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

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

Designation of the Kankakee River National Water Trail!

From June 3, 2016

Greetings Kankakee River Water Trail Friends, Partners, and Volunteers,

Today after many years of effort, Dept. of Interior (DOI) Secretary Jewell and National Park Service (NPS) Director Jarvis announced the designation of the Kankakee River Water Trail as a National Water Trail!  We began work on developing the Kankakee River as a water trail 8 years ago with a great deal of work on mapping, public access site development, paddling campsite building, and development of bi-state collaboration. Around 2 years ago, we began a serious effort to finally applying to the DOI and NPS for National Water Trail designation after much improvement of the trail’s infrastructure.

This bi-state effort to designate the Kankakee River a NWT has been a great undertaking which has brought together around 100 stakeholders from across Illinois and Indiana including strong support from our municipalities, industry, agriculture, business, tourism, educators, elected officials, fellow paddling groups, historic societies, economic development, conservation organizations, and all levels of government.  What we have accomplished together is nothing short of spectacular.  The 133 mile long Kankakee River Water Trail will join the company of only 20 designated National Water Trails in the entire United States!  This will be the first National Water Trail in Indiana and only one of the few bi-state National Water Trails.  From the time when we first turned in the application more than a year ago, we have been told that NPS was overwhelmed by the strong support that the National Water Trail. This entire effort is a great example of what is possible if we all work together collaboratively. We cannot express our deepest gratitude enough for all of your help making this dream a reality!

Below is the press release from the Department of the Interior:

https://www.doi.gov/pressreleases/secretary-jewell-national-park-service-director-jarvis-announce-new-national

For those who might have questions about what will change with the new National Water Trail status, we offer these resources.

  • What will be the benefits of the Kankakee River becoming a National Water Trail (NWT)? –In a nutshell, NWT designation will increase community-based recreational opportunities, help marketing, improve public access safety, boost tourism, spur economic growth, assist with public health improvements, and provide a venue for environmental education.  We believe the NWT designation will help us attract more resources to improve public access, increase safety, and continue to provide a vital resource that our communities can be proud of.
  • What will change if the Kankakee River becomes a National Water Trail? -Designation as a National Water Trail will not impose any new regulations on the waterway, does not interfere in any way with a landowner’s rights or use of property, and does not interfere with local management of the waterway.  There are no intentions to impose any new rules or regulations anywhere on the Kankakee River.
  • GIS Water Trail Map– A comprehensive Water Trail GIS based Story Map website has been developed which can be found at kankakeeriverwatertrail.org. The resource provides a great deal of information that will help paddlers safely explore the Kankakee River National Water Trail.

Over the coming few weeks, we plan to hammer out plans to celebrate the Kankakee River National Water Trail designation.  We will send you the information as soon as we finalize the details. Until then, thank you so much for all of your support and have a fantastic weekend!  Please contact me or Mike Casagrande if you have any questions.

Sincerely,

Dan Plath, President

Northwest Indiana Paddling Association

dplath@nwipa.org

(219) 871-9559

 

Mike Casagrande

Illinois Kankakee River Water Trail Rep.

mcasa888@gmail.com

(815) 573-1839

Wisconsin-Illinois Fox River Water Trail Initiative: Looking for Volunteers

NPS logoThe Fox River Water Trail from Lisbon, Wisconsin, to the confluence with the Illinois River in Ottawa, Illinois provides suitable access to the public, to enjoy the quiet and active recreation, scenic beauty, abundant wildlife, and historic and cultural features. Communities along the Fox River embrace stewardship and public engagement to create and maintain a sense of place.

This is the vision of the Wisconsin-Illinois Fox River Water Trail currently being developed by a partnership of the Fox River Ecosystem Partnership, the Southeast Wisconsin Fox River Partnership, the Village of Waterford, Wisconsin, and the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning. The ultimate goal is to pursue designation of the Fox River as a National Water Trail through the National Park Services’ National Water Trail System. Technical assistance from the NPS Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program, has been awarded and planning is now proceeding.

The National Water Trails System, established by the National Park Service (NPS), is a network of water trails the public can explore and enjoy. The network is overseen by a community of water resource managers who benefit from ongoing information sharing and collaboration. The System serves to bring existing and newly identified water trails together into one cohesive national network to protect, restore, conserve, and increase access to outdoor recreation along – and on – America’s rivers, shorelines, and waterways.

As a result of designation in the National Water Trails System, national water trails may gain:

  • positive economic impact from increased tourism
  • assistance with stewardship and sustainability projects
  • increased protection for outdoor recreation and water resources
  • contribution to public health and quality of life from maintaining and restoring watershed resources
  • access to networking and training opportunities and
  • assistance with recognition and special events highlighting the trail

The partnership developing the Fox River Water Trail is currently finalizing the data to be collected for each access site. We would greatly appreciate volunteers interested in assisting in collection of access site data or other activities contributing to the development of the Water Trail to contact:

Karen Ann Miller, co-chair

Wisconsin-Illinois Fox River Water Trail Initiative

millerkaren@co.kane.il.us

Fox River
Photo by Mike Hoag

Lake Michigan Water Trail: Next Step for IPC

By Laurie Morse (IPC Member and Lake Michigan Water Trail project advocate)lmich water trail

The Lake Michigan Water Trail – a paddling route around the shorelines of all four states of this wonderful Great Lake – has been in development for at least a half-dozen years. You may have heard about it, and wondered where we are in the effort. The vision — an official, cohesive water trail continuous around the entire lake, with access and exit points every five miles, with camping along some shores, world-class scenery and off-trail amenities – is majestic and inspiring.

The foundation for achieving this vision was laid in June, 2011, when the US Department of Interior designated the Lake Michigan shoreline from New Buffalo Michigan, across the entire Indiana coast, and the complete City of Chicago lakefront as a National Recreational Trail (NRT). The powerhouse behind this 75-miles of trail designation was the Northwest Indiana Paddling Association (NWIPA). NWIPA leadership solicited letters of support for the trail designation, negotiated with Indiana landowners and the Chicago Park District, and jumped the hurdles required to get this first portion of the trail approved.

It was a big job, but their work will make our job – getting national recreational trail designation extended up the Illinois coast to Wisconsin, and beyond – easier. The Illinois Paddling Council recently learned that to extend the Lake Michigan trail the 40 miles from Leone Beach in Chicago north through Illinois Beach State Park will not require a separate application for trail designation. We can piggy back on the work done by the Indiana paddlers. What’s needed? Local enthusiasm by paddler groups and other stakeholders. This means letters of support from the local landowners (read: lakeside Park Districts) saying they support extension of the trail designation, and from IPC paddlers and friends.

Once the Illinois and Indiana NRTs are established, the IPC and NWIPA can lead the application for National Water Trail designation for the full circle, 4-state Lake Michigan shoreline. And while we are working on completing the trail on the Illinois shore, Michigan paddlers will be doing the same on the east coast of the Lake.

What is a National Recreational Trail? These trails are designated by the US Secretary of Interior or the Secretary of Agriculture as exemplary trails of local and regional significance. The National Recreation Trails Program supports designated trails with an array of benefits, including promotion, technical assistance, networking, and access to funding. The aim is to promote the use and care of existing trails and stimulate the development of new trails.

These goals match the IPC’s top priorities – to develop water trails and improve access to Illinois Waterways. That’s what we do, and that’s why this project is important to us. The IPC has been instrumental in seeking National Water Trail designation for the Kankakee River, and has supported public access and trail development on rivers throughout northeast Illinois. Now it’s time to add Lake Michigan to this network of water trails.

The Lake Michigan NRT extension on the Illinois shore will provide communities with all that water trails often bring: social and economic opportunities; recreational and health benefits, and opportunities for stewardship, both on the Lake and on the shore. The remaining 40 miles of Illinois Shore is made up of five suburban communities in Cook County (Evanston, Wilmette, Kenilworth, Winnetka, and Glencoe) and nine coastal towns in Lake County (Highland Park, Highwood/Ft. Sheridan, Lake Forest, Lake Bluff, North Chicago, Waukegan, Zion and Winthrop Harbor). The coastal terrain is sandy dunes, which transition to ravines and bluffs, through the industrial shores and working harbor at Waukegan, ending at the sandy shores and campgrounds at Illinois Beach State Park. Working with 14 or more landowners can be complicated, but so far, local governments have been excited about this project. In fact, the IPC, partnering with the Illinois Shore Committee for the Lake Michigan Trail Network, has already had these successes:

  1. Safety: The Illinois Lake Michigan coast, while the most populated of the Great Lakes, did not have a real-time, near shore weather data buoy. Maritime forecasts had to depend on in-lake data from buoys in Milwaukee and Indiana. With the support of our Illinois Shore Committee, Purdue University was able to fund and deploy a near shore weather buoy off Winnetka last summer. The buoy comes back on-line for the summer this month.
  1. Access: The 14 coastal communities on the North Shore have varying levels of public access. Wealthier communities offer many beachfront amenities, for a price. But in Lake County, there are beaches closed for lack of resources or because of contamination. The Illinois Shore Committee is advocating for the re-opening of Foss Park Beach in North Chicago, and partnered with the Waukegan Port District to place a new, free canoe launch – with parking – in Waukegan Harbor. The Harbor, long contaminated by toxins, has been cleaned up, is now safe for human contact, and paddling is newly encouraged.
  1. Special needs: The Waukegan Port District, with funding partners, will install a handicap-accessible canoe and kayak launch at the new canoe landing in Waukegan Harbor. This will be the first assisted launch on the Illinois shore of Lake Michigan.

Next steps for Lake Michigan trail progress in Illinois include an interactive, crowd-sourced map of the proposed trail extension, where paddlers can share their experiences as they tour this part of the coastline, and an extensive letter-of-support campaign.

 

Call to All Paddlers: The Chicago Harbor Safety Committee Needs You

By Susan Urbas, Vice President, CHSC

Photo Credit Larry Dostal

I know that the Illinois Paddling Council counts among its membership many paddlers, who, like me as a rower, have several decades of experience plying the Chicago area waterways, particularly the River, under their belts. We know the stark difference between then and now; between the long, slow, steady growth of human-powered and other traffic, and the explosion of all varieties of traffic which has occurred in the last decade. While on the one hand we are heartened to observe the tremendous growth in human-powered craft usage, on the other hand we, and other types of users, are gravely concerned about the safety implications inherent in waterways crowded by a rich diversity of vessels and users operating at widely divergent levels of operational knowledge, skill, and safety practices.

Increasing concerns over safety risks on Chicago area waterways led to a Ports and Waterways Safety Assessment (PAWSA) being conducted by the Coast Guard on March 27-28, 2012. The purpose of the PAWSA was to identify major safety hazards, estimate risk levels, evaluate potential mitigation measures, and set the stage for implementation of selected measures to further reduce risks in the Port of Chicago. PAWSA participants included representatives from marine stakeholder organizations and government agencies at the federal, state and local levels, including law enforcement.

By conclusion of the PAWSA process, it was clear to the participants that a new harbor safety committee structure was needed that would effectively bring together the diverse variety of Chicago waterway users who have mutual interests in the use of navigable waterways, with the agencies which oversee the waterways. The challenge in drafting a charter for this new harbor safety committee was building a structure that at every level ensured the appropriate marine interests would be represented and the appropriate expertise applied to solve problems and educate the public.

(Remember that last sentence as you read on, for the application, as appropriate to the issue at hand, of all of the relevant marine interests and their expertise to solve problems and educate the public is at the very heart of the CHSC. If your voice, expressing its concerns and knowledge are not in the CHSC room, then you, and the marine community collectively, may just as well hand it over to other interests or unenlightened third parties to make decisions about our waterways’ usage).

The Chicago Harbor Safety Committee (CHSC) was formed on July 15, 2013. The CHSC Charter, which required approval of the Coast Guard, was the result of a year-long effort to devise a harbor safety committee for Chicago which suited the nature of this marine community and its waterway challenges. The approved charter emerged from historical elements in the Chicago marine community (its less formal predecessor harbor safety committee, the 12-year old Port Development and Safety Council), best practices gleaned from other harbor safety committees around the country, and many rounds of input from marine stakeholder and government agency representatives.

Despite the heavy workload to get the new organization up and running, the CHSC did not hesitate to take immediate action to improve the traffic safety on the Chicago River. Faced with a rapid increase in the number of “close calls” between commercial and industrial vessels (tour boats and barges) and rental boats (kayaks and electric boats) during the 2013 boating season, the CHSC sprang into action less than a month after its inaugural meeting on July 15th, and proposed a traffic and hazard warning signage plan which received Coast Guard approval. The signage that you now see posted along the Chicago River alerting to hazards, directional instructions, and no wake zones was the result of this collaboration between the CHSC, the City, and the Coast Guard.

Other accomplishments of the CHSC since its formation in 2013 include successful collaboration with the City on Chicago Riverwalk project construction activity; dissemination of numerous safety relevant alerts, documents, and publications; coordination and collaboration on filming and special events projects on the River and Lake; operational modification of the Centennial Fountain; development and presentation of a Chicago waterway-specific safety education presentation; and perhaps most importantly, CHSC’s very detailed and recently released Safety Recommendations and Guide to Rules and Regulations. New projects now underway include development of a web portal for user-relevant safety training and certification.

For more information about the CHSC and how to join as an individual member or marine stakeholder organization member, please drop me a note at info@chicagoharborsafety.com. Pardon our mess while we complete work on our website, www.chicagoharborsafety.com. A couple of weeks from now, that will be the place to go for everything CHSC and Chicago area waterways related.

logo

 

Friends of the Pecatonica River Foundation History: An Abbreviated Version

By Roger Schamberger

Most Friendly Paddle in the State of Illinois

The Friends of the Pecatonica River Foundation (FPRF) was organized November 13, 2008, as a 501[c]3 not-for-profit organization through the Community Foundation of Northern Illinois. In early 2006, several like-minded individuals worked on the very first landing on Cedarville Road, which is now known as McNeil’s Damascus Landing. This 1.4 acre parcel was purchased for $20,000. The next landing started with the acquisition of 20.74 acres for $10.00 from Stephenson County. This was in May of 2008. It is known as McConnell’s “Bobtown” Landing. Tom Lindblade paddled this 7.9-mile stretch of the Pecatonica River and referred to it as the “Most Friendly Paddle in the State of Illinois.” The next acquisition was 5.35 acres on Farwell Bridge Road, as a donation, on December 30, 2009. This landing is located in eastern Stephenson County and is nearly 70% complete. All landings are publicly owned. The FPRF has a development/management agreement with Stephenson County.

The FPRF is continually working to improve the quality of the Pecatonica River in Stephenson County. The Stephenson County Board recognized the Pecatonica River as a “Blue Trail” in March of 2006. The National Park Service provided a Master Plan Grant to the FPRF for 58 miles of river development in 2010. The Governor’s Hometown Award [GHA], recognizing McNeil’s Damascus Landing, was awarded to the FPRF on October 26, 2011. The Illinois House of Representatives designated the Pecatonica River as a Water Trail in Illinois on February 23, 2012, by way of a resolution written by the FPRF. The National Park Service – Department of the Interior – recognized Atten’s Landing as part of their Rivers and Trails Program. This was the only project in Illinois. We are making great progress.

Our current project is Atten’s Landing. Atten’s Landing was donated for public use by Chuck & Marion Atten. This 5.35 acre parcel is located on the eastern edge of Stephenson County and is our fourth landing on the Pecatonica River. We have four more to go. This project is being developed as a “Wetland” and will have canoe-kayak launch, small motor boat access, and more. The FPRF has moved about 13,800 cubic yards of dirt, built the entry drive and parking area base (elevated about 5’ above existing elevation), buried 675’ of underground electric, installed poles, ADA fishing piers, concrete picnic tables, concrete pads, benches, removed 45+ stumps, and now has 22 new “wetland” trees – donated by The Bruce Company of Verona – planted. All material and labor have been donated to this project. The FPRF survives entirely on donations. There are many kind individuals who recognize what we are doing and why we are doing it. We are extremely grateful for all the support that helps us create facilities that will be enjoyed for many generations.

The FPRF has been very fortunate to have had several pieces of equipment donated to us. We have a 1983 International tandem dump truck, 1994 GMC/White Semi Tractor, a double drop semi-trailer, a 966B CAT endloader (38,798 pound unit), a 960B John Deere excavator (39,543 pound unit), a Ford L9000 truck, and a huge military four-wheel drive dump truck.

fprf1

We are 100% committed to the Pecatonica River.

The Pecatonica River in Stephenson County has had a significant increase in use in the last seven years. The FPRF is working hard to develop access, promote events, reduce flooding, improve wildlife habitat, increase educational awareness, and provide continued clean-ups. The FPRF has adopted all 58 miles of the river in Stephenson County as our responsibility.

This weekend, the FPRF is finishing the clearing and clean-up of Hancock Marina (named by Lee Butler). Nearly 100 trees, noxious weeds, bushes, and decades of garbage will have been cleared to improve a neglected area in Freeport. It will make a good fishing area, and hopefully, safer parking lot.