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President, Potawatomi Paddlers Associaion


By Frank Koehler

In cooperation with the Kankakee Valley Park District, The Potawatomi Paddlers (PPA) have entered a team in this new event. A team consists of 20 paddlers sitting two abreast, plus a “Cox” who steers the dragon boat from the rear, and a drummer who sits at the front. The team of paddlers works in unison to propel the board from a standing start, the aim being to reach the finish line in the fastest time. Ten members of the PPA will be teamed with members from an area business or association.
The event will take place Saturday, September 19th, 9:30 AM at the Kankakee Valley Park District River Road Boat launch, on the south side of the Kankakee River. The entrance is just ¼ mile East of the Ice Valley Center Ice Rink along the south side of River Road Softball Fields.

The Potawatomi Paddlers Association has announced their second annual Kayak Raffle. First prize is a $500.00 Kayak Roof Rack from Pacesetter Truck Accessories, Bourbonnais, IL. Second prize is a $250 gift card from Stock and Field in Watseka, IL, for purchase of a kayak, paddle, and personal flotation jacket. Third prize is Swagman Contour Roof Rack from U-Haul, and fourth prize is a gift card from Meijer’s of Bradley.

Proceeds from the raffle will be used toward the development of an accessible kayak/canoe launch on the Kankakee River in Momence, Illinois. Tickets are $10.00 each or three for $25.00. The winning ticket will be drawn at an event hosted by the Potawatomi Paddlers at the Wilmington VFW Post 552 in Wilmington IL, on Thursday evening, October 8th, 2020.
Please go to the PPA website (KankakeeRiverPPA.org) and click on “Kayak Raffle.” Raffle Tickets can be purchased on-line and will be mailed to the purchaser.

The PPA has scheduled group events throughout the summer. Join us as we explore different sections of the Kankakee River, along with events on the Vermillion and Iroquois Rivers, and the Willow Slough near St. Anne. Participants need to provide their own kayak/canoe. To ensure maximum safety, all participants must wear personal flotation devices. Refreshments are provided following each event.

Saturday, May 9: Willow Slough: Maintained by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Willow Slough Fish and Wildlife Area is an area dedicated to providing hunting and fishing opportunities while maintaining 9,956 acres, 1,800 of which are open water, marshes, and flooded crop land.

Saturday, June 20: Iroquois River: this will be a three-hour paddle along one of the most scenic rivers in Central Illinois.

Saturday, July 11: Rock Creek: We will start near 9000 N. 2250 West Road, and finish just outside Camp Shaw on Roadway 5000 West.

Saturday, July 18: Vermillion River: This is the only river in Illinois having been included on the National Wild and Scenic River System by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Saturday, August 22: Kankakee River State Line: This is a unique section of the Kankakee River, beginning near the State line and finishing in Momence.

Saturday, Sept. 19: Kankakee River Warner Bridge: Starting just west of Warner Bridge Road, we will finish at Rivals Park in Wesley Township, Will County.


The Potawatomi Paddlers were recently awarded a $3,500 grant from the Community Foundation of Kankakee River Valley. The proceeds of the grant will be used to help finance the placement of an accessible kayak launch in Momence, Illinois. In concert with the Momence Park District, the launch will be located on Island Park, near the Momence pedestrian bride. This will afford ease of access from the Island to the Momence Business District. Paddling enthusiasts can easily take advantage of area businesses and restaurants, and other attractions prior to or after an active paddle.

Founded in 2017, following the designation of the Kankakee River as a National Water Trail, one of only 22 rivers in the Country with that designation, the mission of the PPA is to encourage and enable safe and environmentally sensitive recreational use of the Kankakee River National Water Trail, and to expand recreational opportunities for paddle sports, leave-no-trace camping, and other non-motorized activities by all people. Development of the accessible kayak launch is in concert with this mission.

To date, the PPA has raised more than $20,000.00 towards its goal of $35,000.00. In addition to the launch, funds will be used for site preparation and for construction of a hard surface walkway from the adjoining parking lot to the launch site. Additional contributions are both welcomed and encouraged. Individuals and businesses can donate via the PPA website (KankakeeRiverPPA.org) using PayPal.

Potluck, film and discussion on proposed pipeline endangering the Fox, Rock, Illinois and Kishwaukee Rivers.



Do you paddle on the Illinois, Rock, Fox, Kishwaukee, or South Kishwaukee Rivers? Imagine arriving for a lovely paddle and being turned away because of an oil spill in the river!  The first step in protecting the rivers that you love is to find out what is threatening them, so come and learn about a proposed new pipeline that Enbridge, a Canadian oil pipeline company, wants to put through northern Illinois.  You have two opportunities: Monday, June 17 from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. at the Sycamore Public Library, 103 E. State St., Sycamore, IL, or Tuesday, June 18, from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. at the Ottawa Campus of the Illinois Valley Community College, 321 W. Main St., Ottawa, in Room 105.  These events, sponsored by Save Our Illinois Land (SOIL), are free and open to the public.   http://saveourillinoisland.org/



Both events will start with a potluck (bring a dish to pass – store bought food is OK – and your own place setting (but we’ll bring disposables just in case).  After supper we’ll watch a short (38 minute) film called “Pipe Dreams.”  Made a few years ago, it’s about the controversial Keystone XL (KXL) pipeline that TransCanada is still trying to put through the Sand Hills of Nebraska.  The issues are the same as the ones we face in Illinois:

  • the danger to rivers and creeks if there were to be a spill of the toxic cargo planned to flow through both the KXL and the “Line 61 twin,” aka Line 66 that would go through the counties of Boone, DeKalb, LaSalle and Livingston;
  • the danger to groundwater, farmland, humans and animals; and
  • the taking of land by eminent domain for private gain.


After the film, we’ll have a discussion about Line 66, what it would mean for residents and visitors to northern Illinois, and how we can stop it.  Please join us!  For more info, contact Phyllis at phyllisofsoil@gmail.com or call her at 608-628-2605.


For more info on how a tar sands spill into a river can be devastating, read this article from St.Croix 360, that refers to the Kalamazoo River spill in July 2010, where almost a million gallons of tar sands, mixed with toxic, carcinogenic, flammable “diluents” including benzene and hydrogen sulfide, fouled 35 miles of that river and 4435 acres of shoreline.





For a shorter article in Wikipedia, go here.


Though some people say “You can’t stop a pipeline,” it’s a new day in America, and many pipelines have been stopped by citizen opposition. Check out this map that shows the 28 pipelines that were cancelled just in 2015 and 2016!



Paddlers know what a valuable and fragile resource rivers are – please join SOIL in taking action now to protect them!


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.”

Water Sports Foundation Creates New Paddle Responsibly Logo for the U.S. Coast Guard

Orlando, FL February 28, 2017:

The non-profit Water Sports Foundation (WSF) announced today the release of a specialized paddle sports safety logo designed for, and approved by, the U.S. Coast Guard’s Office of Boating Safety. The Coast Guard has promoted its popular Boat Responsibly logo for many years, but with an extra emphasis on paddling safety, it became apparent that there needed to be a sister logo designed specifically for paddle sports.

For the past five years, paddle sports popularity has grown steadily and so have boating deaths related to paddling. In 2015, according to a U.S. Coast Guard report*, 143 paddlers lost their lives while participating in paddle sports. The trend of increased paddle sports deaths is causing concern amongst the Coast Guard’s Boating Safety Division and paddle sports safety organizations. This news comes during a period that deaths from traditional power boating actually declined.

Please read the full press release from the Water Sports Foundation, Inc. here.

Water_Sports_Foundation_Releases_New_ Coast_Guard_PaddleSports_Logo

And access the logo (JPG and PNG)




Liveries and Boat Rentals

DISCLAIMER: This list is provided as a service to the public looking for paddling opportunities. This list is not an endorsement of their services.


Name and Website City, State, Zip Waterway Phone
Ayers Landing Wedron, IL 60557 Fox River 815-434-2233
C&M Canoe Rental Ottawa, IL 61350 Fox River 815-434-6690 or
Canoe the Kish at Larsen’s Landing Rockford, IL 61109 Kishwaukee River 815-516-9070
Canoe the Vermilion Streator, IL 61634 N. Vermilion/Illinois/Fox/I&M Canal 815-673-3218
Chicago Paddle Rentals Chicago, IL 60653 Lake Michigan 312-924-7994
Chicago River Canoe & Kayak Chicago IL 60302-2329 Chicago River/Skokie Lagoons/Busse Woods 847-414-5883 Lagoon
773-704-2663 Chicago River
Fever River Outfitters  Galena, IL 61036 Galena River 815-776-9425
Freeport Canoe Company Freeport, IL Pecatonica River 815-541-0869
Geneseo Campground Geneseo, IL 61254 Hennepin Canal 309-944-6465
Kankakee River Canoe Rental  Wilmington, IL Kankakee 815-476-2801
Kayak Chicago Chicago, IL 60622 Chicago River and Lake MI 312-852-9258
Kayak Morris Morris, IL 60450 Mazon 630-567-4653
Kishwaukee Canoe Rockford, IL 61101 Kishwaukee River(Cherry Valley to New Milford) (815) 968-0711
Offshore Marine Veron Hills, IL 60061 Des Plaines River 847-283-0400
Reed’s Canoe Trips Kankakee, IL 60901-2194 Kankakee River 815-932-2663
Rocktown Adventures Loves Park, IL 61111 Rock 630-506-5706 Aurora
815-636-9066 Rockford
Rutabaga Paddlesport Shop Madison, WI 53716 Various 608-223-9300
Schmidt’s Canoeing Service Elgin, IL 60123 Fox 815-968-0711
T.J.’s Bait/Tackle and Canoe Rental Oregon, IL 61061 Rock 815-732-4516
TipACanoe Canoe Rentals Burlington, WI 53105 Fox, Nippersink 262-342-1012
Vermilion River Rafting Oglesby, IL 61348 North Vermilion 815-667-5242
White Crane Rentals Carbondale, IL 62902 Cache River 618-201-4090
Wisconsin River Outings Boscobel, WI 53805 Wisconsin River 608-375-5300


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