Home » Illinois Paddling Council Blog » Advocacy

Category: Advocacy

Federal Lawsuit Filed to Force Dynegy to Clean Up Toxic Pollution of Vermilion River

Federal Lawsuit Filed to Force Dynegy to Clean Up Toxic Pollution of Vermilion River
Recent Video Documents Continued Coal Ash Contamination of Illinois’ Only National Scenic River

Contact: Jenny Cassel, Earthjustice, jcassel@earthjustice.org or 215.717.4525
Andrew Rehn, Prairie Rivers Network, arehn@prairierivers.org or 217.344.2371 x 208

May 30, 2018 (Urbana, Illinois) — Prairie Rivers Network, represented by Earthjustice, today filed a federal lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois to force Dynegy to clean up toxic coal ash dumps that are leaching harmful pollution into the Middle Fork of the Vermilion River, Illinois’ only National Scenic River. Newly-released videodocuments the pollution at issue in the lawsuit, which argues that Dynegy is violating the Clean Water Act. The pollution has tainted the river with visible orange, purple, and rust-colored toxic residue.

“Dynegy left a toxic mess on the banks of one of Illinois’ most beautiful rivers, and has done nothing to stop the dangerous, illegal pollution from fouling waters enjoyed by countless families who kayak, tube, canoe, and even swim in the river. Dynegy has left us no choice but to sue,” said Earthjustice attorney Jenny Cassel, who represents Prairie Rivers Network.

The pollution is leaching from coal ash generated at Dynegy’s now retired coal-fired power plant, the Vermilion Power Station. For decades, the ash left over from burning coal at the plant was dumped irresponsibly into unlined ponds that together run approximately a half-mile along the river. Coal ash contains a slew of dangerous pollutants that are linked to cancer, heart disease, and strokes, as well as lifelong brain damage for children. Sampling from the river found a “toxic soup” including arsenic, barium, boron, chromium, iron, lead, manganese, molybdenum, nickel, and sulfate. Concentrations of boron and sulfate – primary indicators of coal ash contamination – were repeatedly found in groundwater at the site above levels deemed safe by Illinois and U.S. EPA.

“We have a rare jewel in our midst. My brothers and I learned how to swim in that river and spent countless hours exploring it. Over the years, my wife and I have introduced our children, grandchildren, and extended family to the river to enjoy the beauty, peace, and excitement of being outdoors. We must work together to see that this coal ash problem is solved safely,” said local resident Mike Camp from nearby Collison, who grew up along the river and in sixty-four years has never lived more than two miles away from it.

American Rivers recently named the Middle Fork of the Vermilion River one of the ten most endangered rivers in the United States due to the coal ash contamination. The Vermilion County Board has twice unanimously passed resolutions asking Dynegy to clean up the mess.

The river and its banks are popular for kayaking, other boating, tubing and hiking, with thousands of visitors each year. The Middle Fork runs through Kickapoo State Park, which gets over one million visitors each year.

“As you travel along the river, one minute you are enjoying spectacular natural beauty and the next you’re looking at unsightly chemicals leaching into the water. It’s jarring. It’s bad for the local community and the wildlife—including several endangered species—associated with the river. Dynegy is jeopardizing the local jobs and the economy that depend on visitors who value the river for recreation. No one wants to swim or boat in toxic soup. Dynegy should use some of the money they made when they ran the plant to clean it up. They’re the ones who chose not to safely dispose of the coal ash,” said Rob Kanter, a naturalist and writer who serves on the Board of Prairie Rivers Network.

Meanwhile, Scott Pruitt is proposing to gut the protections for coal ash pollution nationwide, even as evidence mounts that coal ash dumps such as those at the closed Vermilion power plant are leaching dangerous chemicals into rivers, lakes, and groundwater. Even absent strong federal protections for legacy coal ash sites, however, Dynegy still must comply with environmental laws such as the Clean Water Act.

According to today’s lawsuit filed by Prairie Rivers Network, Dynegy has been discharging without a proper permit and in violation of Illinois environmental and health standards for years. Prairie Rivers Network will ask the court to order Dynegy to “take all actions necessary” to stop the illegal pollution that is being discharged to the Middle Fork, and to pay penalties to the United States Treasury of up to $53,484 per day for each day over the last five years that Dynegy has violated the Clean Water Act.

The Middle Fork and its surrounding area host twenty threatened or endangered species, fifty-seven types of fish, forty-six different mammal species, and two hundred seventy different bird species. The river is home to state-endangered Blue Breast Darter and several species of rare, threatened, and endangered mussels. The American bald eagle, river otter, and wild turkey have returned to the area, sharing their habitat with mink, turtles, Great Blue Heron and other species.


hb 435 FULL TEXT

Below is the full text of HB 434.  This repeals the Usage Stemp for Canoes and Kayaks.  Initially we thought that canoes and kayaks would need to register for a 3 year term.  however, as the bill is written, non powered water craft are excluded from this requirement.


Public Act 100-0469

HB0434 Enrolled LRB100 06000 RJF 16029 b
    AN ACT concerning government.
    Be it enacted by the People of the State of Illinois,
represented in the General Assembly:
    Section 5. The Boat Registration and Safety Act is amended
by changing Sections 3-1, 3-2, 3-5, 3-9, 3-11, 3A-1, and 4-1 as
    (625 ILCS 45/3-1)  (from Ch. 95 1/2, par. 313-1)
    Sec. 3-1. Unlawful operation of unnumbered watercraft.
Every watercraft other than non-powered watercraft on waters
within the jurisdiction of this State shall be numbered. No
person may operate, use, or store or give permission for the
operation, usage, or storage of any such watercraft on such
waters unless it has on board while in operation: the
watercraft is numbered
    (A) A valid certificate of number is issued in accordance
with this Act, or in accordance with applicable Federal law, or
in accordance with a Federally-approved numbering system of
another State, and unless:
        (1) the pocket sized certificate of number awarded to
    such watercraft is in full force and effect; or
        (2) the operator is in possession of a valid 60 day
    temporary permit under this Act. , and (2)
    (B) The the identifying number set forth in the certificate


of number is displayed on each side of the bow of such
    The certificate of number, lease, or rental agreement
required by this Section shall be available at all times for
inspection at the request of a federal, State, or local law
enforcement officer on the watercraft for which it is issued.
No person shall operate a watercraft under this Section unless
the certificate of number, lease, or rental agreement required
is carried on board in a manner that it can be handed to a
requesting law enforcement officer for inspection. A holder of
a certificate of number shall notify the Department within 30
days if the holder’s address no longer conforms to the address
appearing on the certificate and shall furnish the Department
with the holder’s new address. The Department may provide for
in its rules and regulations for the surrender of the
certificate bearing the former address and its replacement with
a certificate bearing the new address or for the alteration of
an outstanding certificate to show the new address of the
(Source: P.A. 97-1136, eff. 1-1-13.)
    (625 ILCS 45/3-2)  (from Ch. 95 1/2, par. 313-2)
    Sec. 3-2. Identification number application. The owner of
each watercraft requiring numbering by this State shall file an
application for number with the Department on forms approved by
it. The application shall be signed by the owner of the


watercraft and shall be accompanied by a fee as follows:
    A. (Blank).
    B. Class 1 (all watercraft less
than 16 feet in length, except
non-powered watercraft.)……………………. up to $28 $18
    C. Class 2 (all watercraft 16
feet or more but less than 26 feet in length
except canoes, kayaks, and non-motorized paddle
boats). up to $60 $50
    D. Class 3 (all watercraft 26 feet or more
but less than 40 feet in length)…………….. $150
    E. Class 4 (all watercraft 40 feet in length
or more)………………………………….. $200
    Upon receipt of the application in approved form, and when
satisfied that no tax imposed pursuant to the “Municipal Use
Tax Act” or the “County Use Tax Act” is owed, or that such tax
has been paid, the Department shall enter the same upon the
records of its office and issue to the applicant a certificate
of number stating the number awarded to the watercraft and the
name and address of the owner.
    The Department shall deposit 20% of all money collected
from watercraft registrations into the Conservation Police
Operations Assistance Fund. The monies deposited into the
Conservation Police Operations Assistance Fund under this
Section shall not be subject to administrative charges or
chargebacks unless otherwise authorized by this Act.


(Source: P.A. 97-1136, eff. 1-1-13.)
    (625 ILCS 45/3-5)  (from Ch. 95 1/2, par. 313-5)
    Sec. 3-5. Transfer of Identification Number. The purchaser
of a watercraft shall, within 15 days after acquiring same,
make application to the Department for transfer to him of the
certificate of number issued to the watercraft giving his name,
address and the number of the boat. The purchaser shall apply
for a transfer-renewal for a fee as prescribed under Section
3-2 of this Act for approximately 3 years. All transfers will
bear September 30 June 30 expiration dates in the calendar year
of expiration. Upon receipt of the application and fee,
together with proof that any tax imposed under the Municipal
Use Tax Act or County Use Tax Act has been paid or that no such
tax is owed, the Department shall transfer the certificate of
number issued to the watercraft to the new owner.
    Unless the application is made and fee paid, and proof of
payment of municipal use tax or county use tax or nonliability
therefor is made, within 30 days, the watercraft shall be
deemed to be without certificate of number and it shall be
unlawful for any person to operate the watercraft until the
certificate is issued.
    Non-powered watercraft are exempt from this Section.
(Source: P.A. 97-1136, eff. 1-1-13.)
    (625 ILCS 45/3-9)  (from Ch. 95 1/2, par. 313-9)


    Sec. 3-9. Certificate of Number. Every certificate of
number awarded pursuant to this Act shall continue in full
force and effect for approximately 3 years unless sooner
terminated or discontinued in accordance with this Act. All new
certificates issued will bear September 30 June 30 expiration
dates in the calendar year 3 years after the issuing date.
Provided however, that the Department may, for purposes of
implementing this Section, adopt rules for phasing in the
issuance of new certificates and provide for 1, 2 or 3 year
expiration dates and pro-rated payments or charges for each
    All certificates shall be renewed for 3 years from the
nearest September 30 June 30 for a fee as prescribed in Section
3-2 of this Act. All certificates will be invalid after October
15 July 15 of the year of expiration. All certificates expiring
in a given year shall be renewed between January 1 and
September 30 June 30 of that year, in order to allow sufficient
time for processing.
    The Department shall issue “registration expiration
decals” with all new certificates of number, all certificates
of number transferred and renewed and all certificates of
number renewed. The decals issued for each year shall be of a
different and distinct color from the decals of each other year
currently displayed. The decals shall be affixed to each side
of the bow of the watercraft, except for federally documented
vessels, in the manner prescribed by the rules and regulations


of the Department. Federally documented vessels shall have
decals affixed to the watercraft on each side of the federally
documented name of the vessel in the manner prescribed by the
rules and regulations of the Department.
    The Department shall fix a day and month of the year on
which certificates of number due to expire shall lapse and no
longer be of any force and effect unless renewed pursuant to
this Act.
    No number or registration expiration decal other than the
number awarded or the registration expiration decal issued to a
watercraft or granted reciprocity pursuant to this Act shall be
painted, attached, or otherwise displayed on either side of the
bow of such watercraft. A person engaged in the operation of a
licensed boat livery shall pay a fee as prescribed under
Section 3-2 of this Act for each watercraft used in the livery
    A person engaged in the manufacture or sale of watercraft
of a type otherwise required to be numbered hereunder, upon
application to the Department upon forms prescribed by it, may
obtain certificates of number for use in the testing or
demonstrating of such watercraft upon payment of $10 for each
registration. Certificates of number so issued may be used by
the applicant in the testing or demonstrating of watercraft by
temporary placement of the numbers assigned by such
certificates on the watercraft so tested or demonstrated.
    Non-powered watercraft are exempt from this Section.


(Source: P.A. 97-1136, eff. 1-1-13.)
    (625 ILCS 45/3-11)  (from Ch. 95 1/2, par. 313-11)
    Sec. 3-11. Penalty. No person shall at any time falsely
alter or change in any manner a certificate of number or water
usage stamp issued under the provisions hereof, or falsify any
record required by this Act, or counterfeit any form of license
provided for by this Act.
(Source: P.A. 97-1136, eff. 1-1-13.)
    (625 ILCS 45/3A-1)  (from Ch. 95 1/2, par. 313A-1)
    Sec. 3A-1. Certificate of title required.
    (a) Every owner of a watercraft over 21 feet in length
required to be numbered by this State and for which no
certificate of title has been issued by the Department of
Natural Resources shall make application to the Department of
Natural Resources for a certificate of title either before or
at the same time he next applies for issuance, transfer or
renewal of a certificate of number. All watercraft already
covered by a number in full force and effect which has been
awarded to it pursuant to Federal law is exempt from titling
requirements in this Act.
    (b) The Department shall not issue, transfer or renew a
certificate of number unless a certificate of title has been
issued by the Department of Natural Resources or an application
for a certificate of title has been delivered to the


(Source: P.A. 89-445, eff. 2-7-96.)
    (625 ILCS 45/4-1)  (from Ch. 95 1/2, par. 314-1)
    Sec. 4-1. Personal flotation devices.
    A. No person may operate a watercraft unless at least one
U.S. Coast Guard approved PFD of the following types or their
equivalent is on board, so placed as to be readily available
for each person: Type I, Type II or Type III.
    B. No person may operate a personal watercraft or specialty
prop-craft unless each person aboard is wearing a Type I, Type
II, Type III or Type V PFD approved by the United States Coast
Guard. No person on board a personal watercraft shall use an
inflatable PFD in order to meet the PFD requirements of
subsection A of this Section.
    C. No person may operate a watercraft 16 feet or more in
length, except a canoe or kayak, unless at least one readily
accessible United States Type IV U.S. Coast Guard approved
throwable PFD is on board or its equivalent is on board in
addition to the PFD’s required in paragraph A of this Section.
    D. (Blank). A U.S. Coast Guard approved Type V personal
flotation device may be carried in lieu of the Type I, II, III
or IV personal flotation device required in this Section, if
the Type V personal flotation device is approved for the
activity in which it is being used.
    E. When assisting a person on waterskis, aquaplane or


similar device, there must be one wearable United States U.S.
Coast Guard approved PFD on board the watercraft for each
person being assisted or towed or worn by the person being
assisted or towed.
    F. No person may operate a watercraft unless each device
required by this Section is:
        1. in serviceable condition Readily accessible;
        2. identified by a label bearing a description and
    approval number demonstrating that the device has been
    approved by the United States Coast Guard In serviceable
        3. of Of the appropriate size for the person for whom
    it is intended; and
        4. in the case of a wearable PFD, readily accessible
    aboard the watercraft; Legibly marked with the U.S. Coast
    Guard approval number.
        5. in case of a throwabale PFD, immediately available
    for use;
        6. out of its original packaging; and
        7. not stowed under lock and key.
    G. Approved personal flotation devices are defined as a
device that is approved by the United States Coast Guard under
Title 46 CFR Part 160. follows:
        Type I – A Type I personal flotation device is an
    approved device designed to turn an unconscious person in
    the water from a face downward position to a vertical or


    slightly backward position and to have more than 20 pounds
    of buoyancy.
        Type II – A Type II personal flotation device is an
    approved device designed to turn an unconscious person in
    the water from a face downward position to a vertical or
    slightly backward position and to have at least 15 1/2
    pounds of buoyancy.
        Type III – A Type III personal flotation device is an
    approved device designed to keep a conscious person in a
    vertical or slightly backward position and to have at least
    15 1/2 pounds of buoyancy.
        Type IV – A Type IV personal flotation device is an
    approved device designed to be thrown to a person in the
    water and not worn. It is designed to have at least 16 1/2
    pounds of buoyancy.
        Type V – A Type V personal flotation device is an
    approved device for restricted use and is acceptable only
    when used in the activity for which it is approved.
    H. (Blank). The provisions of subsections A through G of
this Section shall not apply to sailboards.
    I. No person may operate a watercraft under 26 feet in
length unless an approved and appropriate sized United States
Coast Guard a Type I, Type II, Type III, or Type V personal
flotation device is being properly worn by each person under
the age of 13 on board the watercraft at all times in which the
watercraft is underway; however, this requirement shall not


apply to persons who are below decks or in totally enclosed
cabin spaces. The provisions of this subsection I shall not
apply to a person operating a watercraft on an individual’s
private property.
    J. Racing shells, rowing sculls, racing canoes, and racing
kayaks are exempt from the PFD, of any type, carriage
requirements under this Section provided that the racing shell,
racing scull, racing canoe, or racing kayak is participating in
an event sanctioned by the Department as a PFD optional event.
The Department may adopt rules to implement this subsection.
(Source: P.A. 97-801, eff. 1-1-13; 98-567, eff. 1-1-14.)
    (625 ILCS 45/3-1.5 rep.)
    (625 ILCS 45/3-7.5 rep.)
    Section 10. The Boat Registration and Safety Act is amended
by repealing Sections 3-1.5 and 3-7.5.



Cheap Pork or Clean Rivers

By Don Mueggenborg

Spoon River

Most of us like a pork sausage with pancakes, or a slice of bacon with eggs (or almost everything). I enjoyed a pork roast at Christmas.

Since we are the Illinois Paddling Council, I can assume that most of the people reading this are paddlers.   We all enjoy a nice summer paddle on our favorite river (and almost any river I paddle is my favorite at that time).

At one time (and maybe it is still an annual event), Bob Evans invited people to paddle to his farm and enjoy his famous sausages. (Now that is a great way to enjoy both!)

If the price of pork is kept low, we may eat more. This is what the pork producers want. (Of course, their profits will grow as we eat more.)

In order to cut the cost of hog production and make more profits, the pork producers are threatening our rivers.

A three-page article in the Chicago Tribune (Dec 28, 2016) exposes the threat to our rivers.

Pork producers have been building mega-hog farms. The one mentioned in the Tribune article is for 20,000 hogs. No, I did not put in an extra zero.

Besides a lot of bacon, 20,000 hogs produce an awful lot of waste products. This is stored in concrete bunkers, eventually dried, and becomes fertilizer. In the meantime, it produces an unbearable stench.

Nearby wells and streams are threatened with pollution.

If one of the holding bunkers should rupture, be damaged in a tornado, overflow due to heavy rains, millions of gallons of toxic sludge will be set free (it has happened a few years back).

It will flow into our rivers, killing fish, and making the waters unfit to paddle on.

The closest river to the proposed mega-hog farm mentioned by the Tribune is the Spoon River, which flows west and south of Peoria into the Illinois River.

The Spoon is called by some the “Grand Canyon of Illinois” for its colorful red and yellow high clay banks. It is a river that is fun to paddle and was the site of a race I looked forward to for years. It is probably best known for the Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters.

ACTION TIME – the Illinois Department of Agriculture apparently has limited jurisdiction according to the article – so – IT IS TIME TO WRITE, EMAIL, CALL our state senators and representatives. Urge them to pass laws that will safeguard our rivers.

I will pay a little more for my spareribs, bacon, and sausages, to save our rivers.


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

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.


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
























A Call To The IEPA

By Don Mueggenborg

For several days now, besides the seaweed in the river, there were globs of something floating in the river.

I have called the IEPA about possible pollution before – time to call again.

I paddled on a Tuesday and saws the stuff – whatever it was.

Wednesday I called the Des Plaines office of the Illinois EPA. After a bit of a discussion, I was switched to a field officer (or whatever the title).

Me: “There is stuff floating in the river, it might be raw sewage.”

EPA: “Is it green or brown?”

Me: “Ahh – brownish-green or greenish-brown.  Anyway – I paddle the river frequently and this is something different.   It might be sewage.”

EPA: Where are you paddling?  We will try to get out there to see what it is

I gave him directions, just above the first bridge north of the river – turn right – well, left if you are coming from the north, right if from the south. Wind your way to Madison Street, but it is not marked – go toward the river past the treatment plant.

THURSDAY – the river is as clear as I have ever seen it.

Call the IEPA back – they are not going to find anything today.

Me: “I’m the guy that called yesterday about the pollution on the Des Plaines.”

EPA: We haven’t –“

I cut him off –

Me: “You guys really act fast.  What a great job.  I called one day and the next day the river is clear.  Great Job!”

EPA: We haven’t got there yet.  Probably the heavy rain and cooler weather today.  With hot dry summers, the algae tend to grow.  Treatment plants also add phosphorous.  We will check it out.

By the way – I can’t seem to find the place you mentioned. Wind around where?”

I gave him better directions – turn East at the stoplight on Bluff Road – by a gas station – dead-ends into Madison St, turn right to the river.


Call the IEPA if you think the river is being polluted. In my experience, they really do respond.

The photos are of places on the lower Des Plaines.

Des Plaines River Des Plaines River

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.



$169.00 (after $30 rebate) – 10’4″ Kayak – Stable, High Performance Multichannel Hull – Paddle Included

kayak adSo read the ad on the front page of a big box home improvement store’s flyer included in Sunday’s paper. I wonder if the sales clerks at this store will tell their customers that they should also purchase a life jacket (I hope the store carries that). This may be one of the reasons we likely will read again about people getting in trouble on swollen rivers or on Lake Michigan – the “stable, high performance multichannel hull” leading buyers into a false sense of security.

When we started paddling back in the early 1970’s, there were few places one could purchase a canoe in the Chicago area. Once we did, we were provided with information on how to participate in the sport safely by joining a paddling club, which we did too. Club members freely shared their paddling knowledge and skill and educated us to make our canoe outings safer.

Where does the buyer of the $169.00 boat – after rebate – with free paddle – go to safely enjoy his or her purchase? Maybe on some river where skilled kayakers may have been seen playing at the bottom of a dam? Maybe somewhere on Lake Michigan when the weather was warm, but the water temperature in May or June is still cold enough to lead to hypothermia, in the event of the capsized paddler wearing jeans and a t-shirt with the PFD in the back of the boat? All of which we know have happened.

What is the answer? IPC is trying to develop a Safety Task Force to disseminate basic safety information to as many organizations, businesses selling canoes/kayaks/SUPs, and the press as possible, and also respond to reports of paddling-related incidents by submitting this information in letters to editors and other media.

We are looking for your ideas as well on how to provide basic safety information to the general public.

Thank you – Sigrid Pilgrim

2016 Des Plaines River Marathon Participants to Support Chicago Voyagers

By Jack Snarr, Marathon Co-Chair


For each of the past several years, the Des Plaines River Canoe and Kayak Marathon has identified an accessory tax exempt 501(c)(3) organization with related interest in paddlesport and/or the preservation and recreational potential of the Des Plaines River. Marathon registrants have been encouraged to supplement their $22 registration fee with an additional $3 (or more) to benefit the designated organization. Included have been the Upper Des Plaines River Ecological Partnership, the Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Services of Lake County, Openlands, the IPC Paddlers’ Patrol and Water TrailKeepers Programs, and Prairie Rivers Network. Each organization has thereby received a several hundred dollar contribution from Marathon participants.

Inspired this year by Bob Faber’s presentation at the 2015 IPC Annual Banquet/Meeting of the Chicago Voyagers (CV) Organization, the Marathon has identified CV as the 2016 target of these donations. Chicago Voyagers uses the outdoors as a tool to quickly and effectively impact inner city, at-risk youth. Engaging youth in activities such as canoeing (lake, river, wilderness and whitewater), camping, and environmental stewardship teaches them the importance of teamwork, of acting responsibly, and of communicating respectfully. It is hoped that such life lessons will empower the youth to stay in school, avoid unhealthy behaviors, and create a better future for themselves.

Moreover, the Voyagers are being encouraged to participate in the foreshortened, 5.25 mile Minithon option of the 2016 Marathon. To learn more about the organization, please take a moment to review their website for further insight at www.chicagovoyagers.org. Naturally, the Voyagers would welcome the volunteer assistance of individuals or paddling clubs in the enactment of their programs!

Your comments on the proposed $140,000,000 Longmeadow Parkway are urgently requested.

Your comments on the proposed $140,000,000 Longmeadow Parkway are urgently requested.
By Gary Swick
President, Friends of the Fox River
December 9th – January 9th is probably the worst time of the year tosolicit volunteer efforts, as it is the busy holiday season. But this is the window thathas been assigned to have a voice on the proposed Longmeadow Parkway. Please raise your voice, as this is significant in the approval process. We have found that the Army Corps of Engineers do consider our comments. Requesting a public hearing would allow foradditional time to comment.Below are links for background information, and comment submission guidelines.









Please educate yourself on the associated issues. The sample letter to the Governor on the CURB site offers four main points. There are however a long list of concerns that are associated with these categories, especially relative to environmental impacts. Contact either the stoplongmeadow or CURB folks through their web sites for specific information. Sample letters are also available. The Environmental Law and Policy Center, Openlands, and Illinois Sierra Club’s comments on the legality of building a highway through a County Forest Preserve are especially compelling. I welcome the opportunity to work with individuals or groups on this issue.

Please develop and submit your public comment before January 9th. It is very important to strictly adhere to the comment parameters. The Army Corps and IEPA have different requirements and are two different permits, but they are accepting joint letters of comment. Also please share the need for public comment with your own social circles. We need to demonstrate that the public cares. This is a very important opportunity to take action on a project that could have significant impact socially, economically, and environmentally. We need your voice.


LMP public comment call

LMP talking points sample 1

ACE public comment – 2

lmp assessment by ed