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Illinois Recreational Access Program – IRAP

By Sigrid Pilgrim

With efforts to develop water trails on a number of Illinois Rivers – we wanted to let you know about the IRAP Program by IDNR. This program leases private property throughout the state for semi-controlled public access for outdoor recreational opportunities. Currently, there are three such access sites for non-motorized craft in Bureau and Schuyler counties on the Illinois River, and on the Sangamon River in Sangamon County. Landowners are compensated with a few hundred dollars annually for making their private land available to the public for recreational purposes.

IRAP is federally funded through the NRCS Volunteer Public Access – Habitat Improvement Program (VPA-HIP) grant, and IDNR’s funding runs out in 2018 and is contingent upon the 2019 Farm Bill. (Let’s hope it will continue under the current administration).

Until then – everyone working on developing water trails – check out the details of this fabulous program. Although there are some restrictions – see linked below – perhaps there is a way you can identify potential private land owners who might want to participate in exchange for a few hundred dollars, and also the values this program contains. According to IDNR – landowners also benefit from conservation efforts by removing invasive species, upgrading potential access sites with gravel, and the knowledge that they are introducing more people to the wonders only the natural environment can bring.

For more details – please contact Tammy.Miller@illinois.gov.

IRAP_2_FactSheet_Jan2017

Sangamon River Alliance

By Scott Hays

Last November, several groups and organizations came together with a common interest in the Sangamon River. Over 240 miles in length, the Sangamon courses through several towns including Mahomet, Monticello, Decatur (where a dam on the Sangamon forms Lake Decatur), Springfield, the historic town of Lincoln’s New Salem, and Petersburg before joining the Illinois River at Beardstown. On that day, people from organizations spanning these towns were there.

The initial goal was to meet, talk, network and explore shared interests and opportunities. And out of this meeting, a new organization was formed that we feel could be a model for river stewardship across Illinois and indeed, everywhere: the Sangamon River Alliance (SRA).

Our current draft mission statement explains that this group will be “dedicated to the stewardship of the Sangamon River watershed” and will “promote watershed conservation, education, and recreation.” “Working together, members of the Sangamon River Alliance will amplify the voice and good work of all of the organizations committed to the well-being of the Sangamon River watershed.”

For a river group within the state of Illinois, the SRA is comprised of an impressive diversity of interests and organizations, including: the Friends of the Sangamon Valley, the Upper Sangamon River Conservancy, Heart of the Sangamon Partnership, Lincoln Heritage Water Trail Association, Friends of Lincoln Trail Homestead State Park, Macon County Master Naturalists, Menard County Trails and Greenways, Macon County Soil and Water Conservation District, City of Decatur Water Production, the Agricultural Watershed Institute, the Village of Mahomet, the Illinois Audubon Society, the American Canoe Association, Sierra Club, Prairie Rivers Network, the Illinois Paddling Council, the Illinois State Museum, Illinois Department of Natural Resources, and Massie and Massie Associates,  which has helped with rivertrail plan development.

Not merely a paddling group or even a river group, the SRA seeks to take in the entire Sangamon watershed as the territory it covers, including the river, its tributaries and the surrounding landscape. In addition, we welcome expanded membership from any and all other groups, organizations, and agencies that are active throughout our watershed.

Again, quoting from our draft vision statement: “The Sangamon River Alliance creates a network for sharing and broadcasting information about the efforts of every organization that promotes conservation, and encourages educational and recreational opportunities throughout the Sangamon River watershed.”

For now, the group seeks to serve as a forum for coordinating the varied activities among the member groups. Currently there are no plans for the SRA to have a budget, a board of officers, although we are creating our website, which we hope will act as a ‘one-stop shopping’ site for any and all information about happenings, information, events, and stories for everything Sangamon River. Soon, we hope to hold a ‘Sangamon River Fair’ where all of our member groups can come out and meet the public, and visitors can learn more about the Sangamon watershed.

We hope that you will take an interest in our group and in our river in our part of the state. Come visit us and check out our website at sangamonriveralliance.org.

We’d like to leave everyone with this thought from our SRA draft vision statement: “We have an extraordinary capacity to document and analyze ecosystem threats and to conserve and restore habitats, and most importantly, we have a profound responsibility to ensure the vitality of nature for future generations.”

River is Up – Let’s Go! (No Don’t)

By Don Mueggenborg

The river is up. Time to go paddling.  Finally deep water.  Good current.

How often have we wished for good, high water on our favorite river? Won’t have to worry about hitting the bottom with our paddles.  The good current will make the trip fast.

Not a good idea.

  1. When the river is in flood stage, there are no banks. Those trees that are along the banks, are now between you and higher ground. If you should dump, you won’t be able to get you and your canoe or kayak to the shore.A few years back, my partner Tom and I were paddling the Des Plaines Marathon. Water was high and we were moving.  (We probably should have called it off, but hindsight is better than foresight sometimes.)

    We heard a cry “help!” We came around the bend and saw two people in the water hanging on to their canoe.  We got up to them and they grabbed our boat and we drifted.  There was no way for them to get to shore.  Finally, after a mile and a half, we found a spot for them to get out.  They were cold and wet.

    Under normal water, they would have swam to the shore and been out, dumped the water from their boat and continued.

  2. The trees can be dangerous.   If you manage to get your boat out of the main stream, with the water flowing through the trees, you can’t get your boat through the trees safely. The current may wrap a boat around the trees or wedge it between the branches. 

    Even think about it if you have a kayak. You can’t paddle through the trees because there is not enough room for your paddle between the trees.

  3. The current can be fast and tricky.   The water is often swirling in eddies, moving you to places you don’t want to be, often fast enough to throw you off balance. Fast current, water pushes you into the trees as you come around a curve. We are not used to having to react so fast or even how best to avoid the trees.As much as I love to paddle, as many hours as I have in the canoe, as much as I think I am a good paddler – maybe the best thing to do today is not paddle or find a place to paddle in the back waters with no trees.

    See you on the river – when the water drops a bit.

IDNR WUS Renewal Letter

If you have received a letter from IDNR requesting you to renew the boat corresponding to the hull number listed – see copy attached below – this ONLY applies to boats whose registration expired in 2015 or 2016. If you already purchased a WUS for 2017 – you DO NOT NEED to respond. Also – if you have sold or otherwise no longer own the boat corresponding to the hull number listed in the letter, no action is needed.

Here is the explanation from IDNR why they sent the letter:

The mailer was paid for by the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation and is not the first time DNR has worked with them to try and get people to register their expired boats (be in compliance with the law).  There are two different places on the mailer that state that if they no longer own the boat, they should disregard the notice.  The notices were not for the current year people still they were only on boats that lapsed in 2015 and 2016 (in other words, already expired). No changes have been made to the water usage stamp at this time.  The legislature still has not acted on any bills to change it.

IPC continues to work with IDNR to improve the WUS system – please call your legislators and let them know that you would like to see an improvement in the system as well. Thank you

  1. NON-RESIDENT WUS EXEMPTION PARTICIPATING IN ORGANIZED PADDLING EVENTS

For all organizers of competitive or other organized regatta events – please see the attached letter below, but be sure that you apply for the permit.

The application form can be accessed here: https://www.dnr.illinois.gov/boating/Documents/Regatta%20Plan%20Application.pdf

IDNR WUS Renewal Letter

IDNR WUS Renewal Letter Non resident water usage – special order

Wisconsin Canoe Heritage Museum

Just in case some of our readers may not know – there is a great canoe museum in Spooner, Wisconsin. And, coming up on May 27, is the 2017 Canoe & Wooden Boat Show. Yes – we know – many of you paddle the rotomolded plastic kayaks, SUPs, or fiberglass canoes – but there is always room for some beauty. So check out the event and if you are the lucky owner of one of those beautiful boats – call the museum and see if you can display it. Have fun!

Get Ready For the 2017 Canoe & Wooden Boat Show Sat May 27

WCHM invites participants for its eighth annual Canoe & Wooden Boat Show, to be held in conjunction with Wisconsin Canoe Heritage Day on May 27, 2017. This one day free event will also include museum tours and open house, the unveiling of new displays, ongoing activities in the canoe workshop, and live music and food and beverage in the beer garden. Now is the time to make plans to be an exhibitor and display your canoe, wooden boat, or other canoe related items of interest.

Wooden boats of all shapes, sizes, and designs are welcome, both classic and modern, as well as all kinds of classic and vintage water and paddling related items. Whether you have items to sell, or you just have something to show off, there will be many interested folks attending this free event. Exhibitors can include individuals, commercial entities, non-profits, authors, government agencies, educators, crafters, and businesses whose products or services are relevant to boaters and wooden boats and canoes.

Booth space is free, and reserving a space is easy. You can download a booth reservation form from the WCHM website at www.WisconsinCanoeHeritageMuseum.org, or request one by emailing to info@wisconsincanoeheritagemuseum.org or calling 715-635-2479.

Wisconsin Canoe Heritage Day is produced by the WCHM each year on the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend.

http://www.wisconsincanoeheritagemuseum.org/upcoming-events

The Sarah Hartman Fund for Paddlesport Education

Greatly appreciates, again, the generous donations from Mrs. Helen Hartman, Sarah’s mother, Dave Hillman, Iowa, and the contributors to the silent auction last year. This fund supports paddlers who have successfully completed paddlesport instructor certification. Please see details on our website about qualifying for financial support from the Sarah Hartman Fund:

http://www.illinoispaddling.info/heartland-fund/

For upcoming instructional and certification courses (searchable by state):

http://www.americancanoe.org/?page=FindCourses

Sample of Upcoming Skills Courses in Illinois:

Sunday, April 30, 2017 (Aurora):

Wednesday, May 10 – May 13, 2017 (Chicago)

2017 Reel Paddling Film Fest

03/29/2017 7:00 PM CDT

Durty Nellie’s – 180 N Smith St, Palatine, IL 60067

The Reel Paddling Film Festival is a film contest awarding winning films in 10 categories. The winners and other shortlisted films are then toured to more than 100 cities around the world, screening for an audience of more than 30,000 outdoor adventure enthusiasts and their friends and families.

The Reel Paddling Film Festival is produced by Rapid Media. Rapid Media also publishes four leading paddlesports magazines: Rapid, Adventure Kayak, Canoeroots and Kayak Angler magazines. Your ticket to a Reel Paddling Film Festival World Tour stop includes a free one-year digital edition subscription to any/all four of the above magazines. Special offer details are available in your evening program.

This year we have booked the upstairs area as well, so there will be no outside distractions!

Doors open at 6pm.

More information and online registration: 2017 Reel Paddling Film Fest

Tickets available at https://events.ticketprinting.com/event/22561

A Fabulous New Paddlesport Safety Brochure and Videos

By Sigrid Pilgrim

As a representative on the Chicago Harbor Safety Committee, I was sent the newly developed Paddlesport Safety Brochure:

http://www.canoekayak.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/WSF_Safety-Brochure-FINAL.pdf

This is excellent, short, visual and to the point. Since it is hard to print out in the format given, I tracked down the origin and suggested that perhaps it could be made available with each canoe/kayak sold. Little did I know the background and what a great surprise

Thank you JIM EMMONS, Non-Profit Outreach Grant Director, Water Sports Foundation, Inc.

A Division of WSIA.net; ACA Instructors and US Coast Guard.

The pamphlet idea was developed during a 2015 safety meeting that I organized with the USCG and the top six recreational kayak manufacturers at the Outdoor Retailer trade showing Salt Lake City, UT.  During the meeting, we got the manufacturers’ attention by sharing the raw data on deaths in America.  Prior to this meeting, the manufacturers had no idea that kayaks killed so many.  Next we asked them to help us share safety messages through their channels, both social media and marketing, like websites and newsletters.  They all unanimously agreed.  At this meeting, we discussed a safety pamphlet that could be attached to kayaks during production and shipped to dealers ready for consumers right in the retail environment.  The manufacturers all agreed to include them and in January, nearly 7 million (a three year supply) were printed by the USCG.     

I managed to get a commitment from NASBLA to help get this pamphlet shipped to nearly every state and territory — about 2 million copies. 

There have been a few articles about this project.  I’ve linked two here.

NASBLA’s Small Craft Advisory

Boating Industry

In addition to the printed pamphlet, we also produced an eight part video series called Safer Paddling, Be Smart, Be Safe, Have Fun.  The videos are all over Youtube, but you can find them on our partner’s website, Canoe & Kayak here. (The pamphlet also has a QR code directly linking to the videos). For 2017, we are producing a series of SUP videos and a pamphlet for SUP manufacturers to attach to the deck of the board.

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.

 

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.