Home » News

Category: News

Holm v. Kodat and the Current State of Illinois Water Access Law

no trespassing sign on chain link fenceScott Hays, President, IPC

Illinois paddlers have been dismayed by the recently released Holm v. Kodat decision of the Illinois Supreme Court (175 NE 3d 119 – Ill: Supreme Court 2021 to read the decision, click here). Importantly, the ruling didn’t change anything that hasn’t been established law in Illinois for many decades. Rather it upheld existing Illinois law that owners of property along the banks of “non-navigable” Illinois rivers (the “riparian corridor”) also own the property rights on the river surface itself out to the midpoint of the river. If one owner owns property on both sides, they in fact “own” that section of the entire width of the river and those who paddle through their “private property” can legally be found guilty of trespass.  The issue in Holm hinged on the rights of one riparian owner – Mr. Kodat – to block river access by another riparian owner – the Plaintiff Holm – on a “non-navigable river” in Illinois – the Mazon.

While Holm v. Kodat changes nothing about water rights and access law, it has focused greater attention on the issue and raised the ire of many paddlers, many of whom (understandably) have only a vague understanding of what Illinois river access law actually is. This has naturally drawn attention to the current status of laws affecting Illinois rivers (pardon the pun).  


Under federal law, when a state was admitted to the Union it also became the owner of the bodies of water within its borders that were navigable for interstate commerce “for the public benefit of its citizens.” “Public benefit” sounds pretty good, but then the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) clarifies that: “Under Illinois law the IDNR was given the responsibility of determining what bodies of water within the State are to be designated as a public body of water (i.e. navigable for commerce).” (Rivers, Lakes and Streams Act, 615 ILCS 5/5)

Using a standard of “navigability”, the IDNR has therefore determined which waterways would be public and which would not be. IDNR lists the “navigable” and therefore “public” waters of Illinois here:


The net result of this listing is that of the 87,110 miles of rivers and streams in Illinois (not counting the 880 miles of river Illinois is bordered by), only approximately 30 rivers (or portions thereof) are classified as navigable. So hey, if your river – or one you’d like to paddle – is listed, paddle away! Don’t even bother reading on!

If not – which is most paddleable rivers in Illinois – then your river is unfortunately a “non-navigable” and therefore “non-public” river. As mentioned above, riparian owners who own property along any “non-navigable” river “own” the property out to the centerline of the river and by extension, those who own property on both banks along a stretch of river also “own” that stretch of river as their private property. As a practical matter, paddlers heading downriver (or upriver) who cross into this private property can legally be found guilty of trespass.  Happily, most riparian owners on most of our rivers don’t often accuse paddlers of trespass. Yet this creates an uneasy alliance that sometimes cracks, as in the recent DuPage River issue or more recently in Holm v. Kodat. 

The Court goes on to explain:

This court has long recognized that “riparian rights apply to all flowing streams whether navigable or non-navigable, but with respect to navigable streams, the right of the riparian owner is subject to a public easement to use the river for navigation purposes.” A waterway is navigable and subject to a public easement if it naturally, by customary modes of transportation, is “of sufficient depth to afford a channel for use for commerce”. If, however, the waterway is nonnavigable, the riparian owner owns “the bed of the stream” absolutely, free from any burdens in favor of the public.” Here, it is undisputed that the Mazon River is a nonnavigable river and, therefore, has no public easement for access. (¶ 29&30)


“Navigability” then is a key factor in determining whether a river could be considered public or private, so let’s review how Illinois defines navigability.

Here, the Illinois Supreme Court follows a ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court, which states that

streams or lakes which are navigable in fact must be regarded as navigable in law; they are navigable in fact when they are used or susceptible of being used, in their natural and ordinary condition as highways for commerce, over which trade and travel on water are or may be conducted in the customary modes of trade and travel on water. (United States v. Holt State Bank, 270 U.S.49 (1926)

Of course, paddling a canoe or kayak could be considered “customary” and certainly counts as a “mode of travel on water.” Paddlers can easily navigate several rivers or streams across our state. Nonetheless, for our purposes here we must stick to the law which rules out any common-sense understanding that paddlers may choose to apply regarding the concept of “navigability.”

In the case of Hubbard v. Bell (1870), the Illinois Supreme Court rejected a “pleasure boat test” of navigability, stating: “that it was not every small creek in which a fishing skiff or gunning canoe can be made to float at high water, which is deemed navigable. In order to have this character, it must be navigable to some purpose useful to trade or agriculture.” (Hubbard v. Bell, 54 Ill. 110.)

Never mind that this dates to 1870. This mindset was then more recently updated in 1905:

…A stream is navigable in fact only where it affords a channel for useful commerce and of practical utility to the public as such. The fact that there is water enough in places for row boats or small launches answering practically the same purpose, or that hunters and fisherman pass over the water with boats ordinarily used for that purpose, does not render the waters navigable. Schulte v. Warren, 218 III. 108 (1905).

All of this was reiterated and put even more bluntly by the Appellate Court in Holm v. Kodat: “[I]t is irrelevant, for purposes of determining navigability in fact, that the Mazon River can support kayaks.” (2021 IL App (3d) 200164, ¶ 28).

So according to current Illinois law, a river isn’t “navigable” even if paddlers can actually navigate it by kayaks, row boats, small launches, or the “ordinary boats of hunters and fisherman.” Furthermore, a canoe or kayak is apparently not “a customary mode of travel on water.” OK then. One is naturally left curious about whether our courts feel that those who operate commercial boat rental liveries on rivers for the enjoyment of the public are actually engaged in “some purpose useful to trade,” “useful commerce,” or are in fact doing anything of “practical utility to the public” at all. But no matter, they are nonetheless non-navigable rivers and therefore private unless the river can handle barges or steamships or some other “useful commerce” of that sort.  


One point made by Holm in Holm v. Kodat is that an earlier Illinois Supreme Court ruling known as “Beacham” should apply here (Beacham v. Lake Zurich Property Owners Ass’n, 123 Ill. 2d 227, 1988). Beacham resolved a dispute among riparian owners on Lake Zurich in favor of all lakefront property owners having access to the entire surface of Lake Zurich, which was a “non-navigable” body of water, like the Mazon River. But the Illinois Supremes pointed out for us that while the plaintiff (Holm) argued that there isn’t a meaningful difference between rivers and lakes for the paddling community:

We disagree. A lake is essentially a flat expanse of relatively still water…. In contrast, streams and rivers can have widely varying topographical features and characteristics, including differing currents, depth, and width that may change with the seasons. Naturally, then, a riparian owner’s use of a lake will likely differ from a riparian owner’s use of a river or stream…. a nonnavigable lake is sufficiently distinct from a nonnavigable river or stream to render Beacham inapplicable. (¶ 38)

Full disclosure: I am a riparian property owner (who loves it when Sangamon River paddlers pass by the part of the river I “own”). Like many of us, I have paddled both rivers and lakes. While I have noted the distinction that lakes are generally big and round and rivers are long and narrow, I don’t actually “use” them any differently. But no matter. The Supremes find them to be “sufficiently distinct” so that’s that.

In fairness, the Supremes seem empathetic to the plight of paddlers:

In closing, we acknowledge plaintiffs’ advancement of public policy arguments in favor of promoting the recreational use of nonnavigable streams and rivers in Illinois…. Because the majority of waterways in Illinois are nonnavigable, plaintiffs urge this court to adopt a legal rule granting a riparian owner on a nonnavigable stream or river a right to use the entire length of that waterway to promote its reasonable recreational use. (¶ 55)

Yet, in their Conclusion, they state:

For the foregoing reasons, we decline plaintiffs’ request to hold that they have a right, as riparian owners on the nonnavigable Mazon River, to use the entire length of that waterway to cross the property of other riparian owners without their permission. (¶ 58)

In the end, our Justices clearly had an opportunity to more closely scrutinize and update our anachronistic Illinois water law with a ruling that could have favored Holmes by extending their own Beacham decision regarding lakes to rivers, but chose not to.

So what now?


The Illinois Department of Natural Resources, which adheres to Illinois law and rulings of the Illinois Supreme Court, has for some time offered two legal means of opening up paddlers’ rights on non-navigable rivers under current Illinois water law.

First, as the Court points out, other riparian owners do not have a right “to use the entire length of that waterway to cross the property of other riparian owners without their permission.” So, one means of gaining access to rivers is to ask permission.

Of course, for a stretch of river, those who wish to paddle it would need to seek permission from every riparian owner along that route. This was recently done at significant effort by the Paddle the Kish organization on the Kishwaukee River. But if one owner fails to grant permission, the success of this kind of effort could be threatened. Nonetheless, IPC can share legal documents (shared with us by “Paddle the Kish”) which were created so that riparian property owners can clarify their intent to grant such permission, should they wish to do so.

Alternatively, anyone can petition the IDNR to add their river to the navigable rivers list. According to the Illinois Administrative Code, “any person may petition for an order to add a body of water to the list when it can be shown that the candidate is or was navigable and is open or dedicated to public use.” (17 ILL. ADM. CODE CH. I, SEC. 3704.40).

The petition has to name the body of water, where it is, include a statement on its past or present navigability, and/or statements of people living along the river that “it is common knowledge that the body of water has always been open to public use” along with other information that make it rather the equivalent of the Wizard telling Dorothy to report back with the broom of the Wicked Witch of the West. However, IDNR wants you to know that getting that broom is at least theoretically possible (as Dorothy made clear – in a work of fiction).


Although the Holm decision reiterates and therefore strengthens and clarifies Illinois water law, two things from the Holm decision point to the path ahead for our paddling community. First, the unanimous opinion clearly states:

In our view, the legislature is the best venue to consider plaintiffs’ request for the creation of a new public policy on riparian rights for nonnavigable rivers and streams in Illinois, which constitute the majority of waterways in this state. As the parties’ arguments and the amicus curiae briefs demonstrate, plaintiffs’ request for a new public policy involves significant competing interests that we believe the General Assembly is better equipped to address. (¶ 56)

Which means that – although one could argue that resolving disputes among competing interests is what courts are for – these Justices certainly don’t want to get involved in resolving these “significant” competing interests. So they’re letting the law stand and in so many words, telling the paddling community, “Go ask your Mother.”

In addition, Justice P. Scott Neville, Jr. writes in a specially concurring opinion signed onto by Chief Justice Anne Burke:

I believe it is time for Illinois to move away from its common law that limits the use of nonnavigable lakes, rivers, and streams to riparian landowners and move to the recreational navigation doctrine, so that all waterways are available to the public for recreational use…. I concur in the result reached in today’s opinion, but I encourage the legislature to promulgate legislation so that the state’s nonnavigable lakes, rivers, and streams are not limited to use by riparian landowners but are available to the public for recreational use. (¶ 61, 81)

Finally, going back to a 1998 report that unfortunately has remained unpublished, entitled: “Water Law and Recreational Access”, the IDNR concluded that:

As more and more recreators use Illinois streams, their currently limited legal right to use non-public streams will at some time be challenged. When that challenge comes, regardless of how it comes, increasing the facilities and information that provide actual access to Illinois’ public and public use waters will have built a broader constituency to support further expansion of the public’s access rights. Building and informing this constituency is essential to affect the change in river access rights that recreators and conservationists desire.

I couldn’t have said it better myself. This is precisely the legacy that we here at the Illinois Paddling Council wish to continue. Stay tuned…


Meet our New Historian/Archivist


Historian Greg Taylor impersonates Henri de Tonti, Rene-Robert Cavalier Sieur de La Salles most trusted 1st Lieutenant.

Hello All, This is Greg Taylor, your Safety and Education Director for the Northern Half of Illinois here. I have recently been elected to also serve as the IPC Historian/Archivist on the Board. With my focus on public education on the Board and my personal interest in history and the preservation of it, I thought it prudent to volunteer for this position as well. We all can learn through stories from history and it does teach us if we are willing to listen and it isn’t dry or irrelevant; two things I’m not interested in.

Since I am relatively new to this Board, four years and counting so far, I do not have a lot of background to write from to form a big picture to draw from to give back to you, our constituency. So with that stated, I am asking each and every one of you that may have hard copies, ie, paperwork, old printed newsletters, banners propaganda pins, hats, T-shirts (not overly illegible), articles and artifacts pertaining to the formation, function, of the IPC. And  to get them to me for safekeeping in one safe and secure storage environment so that they can be used to form articles for publication in our newsletter to build common knowledge of the IPC. 
I have a lot to learn about our history, policies and involvement in various activities that have guided the paths we have chosen in the past as well as our current directions. Many of you may also have questions that I may be able to answer through this new department and facet of our Newsletter. With your help with submissions of materials I will be able to enlighten us all. Any and all materials can either be sent to me or if you are local enough, picked up by me at your convenience. I thank you all ahead of our meetings and anticipate receiving many materials. Your help with this compilation is  greatly appreciated.  

Recreational and Competitive Canoe/Kayak/SUP Racing is Back

paddlers in boats across the river
Waiting to go; the start line (at the marathon, boats put in and drift about 1/2 block or so to the start line)

After layoffs of 4 years for the Mid-Am and 3 years for the marathon because of the unsafe water conditions and then that cursed virus – Illinois’s two biggest recreational and competitive races are back.

The Des Plaines River Canoe, Kayak, and SUP Marathon and minithon and the Mid-America Canoe Races were welcomed back by hundreds of paddlers most enjoying the experience again after the layoff and the camaraderie that comes when fellow paddlers gather together.

These races give the most competitive paddlers a chance to compete against each other and give less competitive paddlers a chance to test their skill and endurance and maybe beat their buddy or spouse or neighbor or someone, and if not still have fun.


Water and weather conditions were good and the course record of 2:03 for the 19 mile was challenged, but Joe Crnkovich (from Tennessee) just missed at 2:06:08 while Robert Hartman (Michigan) was only 19 seconds behind Joe. (Next year they should start them in the same heat.)

Changing of the guard so to speak. Kayaks outnumbered canoes with Mens Recreation Kayak being the largest class with 75 boats. Dick Pula (MN) won in 2:49. Women Recreation had 35 boats. (Linda Deith WI 3:06) Competition classes were down. The race that started as a boy scout event, junior class, was very low.

A couple other close races:
  • Mixed Competition:  Beth Schlueter/Dave Timmerman 32 seconds over Barb Brady/Al Limberg
  • C-1 Dave Kies over Ron Koenig by 34 seconds

There were 10 people who did the 19 miles standing up (SUP) while a few more did the short race. Bryan Block (Moline) won in 2:48. (Glitch and apology – the short race start times were not recorded so no times were available).

Although total number registered was a bit lower than pre-virus, there were paddlers from 8 states plus Germany and Australia.

Ages of the paddlers ranged from 7 years old to 6 people over 80. For results and more information, visit canoemarathon.com

Next year May 21, 2023.


At the finish line, there were so many happy faces. For many it was a chance to see old friends (in my case some really old). It was a festive atmosphere even though the number of entries was lower than usual, but was expected after such a long layoff.
The water was on the low side which made for some slower times, but the weather was good and people were excited.

The fastest time of the day was Jim Pechous, current chairman of the St Charles Canoe Club with a time of 1:34 for the 10 mile course.

Next year June 4, 2023


When tripping, we always carry some duck tape to repair a canoe or a shoe or whatever. During the Mid-Am race, a canoe hit a sharp rock and put a hole in the bottom. Two C-1 paddlers stopped to help. Solution – they removed the race numbers from their canoe and pasted them over the hole. The repair got them to the end of the race course. Good thinking and good Samaritans.

Cache River Magic

Firefly with colors surrounded by the name, Cache Bayou OutfittersWhen I first visited the Cache River when I was a 13 -year-old boy, I instinctively knew this place had magic. Not the kind of magic that turns frogs into princes, but the kind that fosters the soul and the imagination of children that these wild places still give. The Cache is home to one of the northern most Bald Cypress wetlands in the country and it has a very specialized ecosystem.

Nearly three decades later and countless hours of observation and canoeing on this river, I still continue to wander in this place as I did as a child. As I set out in my handmade Louisiana styled Pirogue (Bald Cypress board canoe), reminiscent of the Cypress swamps of French/Indian influenced Louisiana, I still find magic in this ancient river. I can still discover its natural mystery as I cut through the thick coat of duckweed and hear the countless calls of songbirds around me. It wasn’t long before I encountered a Great Blue Heron, stalking its prey in the murky shallows. With its sword-like piecing head, it looks in my direction, lands and belts out a call that sounds something like it’s from Jurassic Park. Listening to this Alarm call I ask myself what other swamp creatures have now been alerted to my presence. This is referred to as Mowgli’s Jungle Law or in this case, swampland law. It is the natural law for the traveler aware or unaware of their surroundings that every creature knows you’re here as a traveler which may include anything from humans to coyotes. According to this law, concentric rings are sent like ripples in a pond and every creature is alerted to your presence and your potential dangers. Essentially the swamp is alive and knows your movements and knows that you are here and it is watching.

After paddling 4 miles, I reach my river stilt house that sits on the water’s edge. I am just in time to meet with a group for an afternoon paddle and to share some Stone Age swamp craft. They are from Chicago and they have interest in knowing this swamp as ancient man knew it. By the time the afternoon has passed, I will have showed them basic friction fire craft, wild foods of the river area, how to procure water, how to weave a cattail mat for bedding, and how to survive if one is lost in these wilds. Soon after these lessons we set out for an afternoon paddle and immerse them to the movement of the river and slow rhythm that persists here.

All this and more are shared here at the home of Cache Bayou Outfitters Inc. It is my hope you will come to the river to reconnect –– both with nature and your ancient self. We provide memorable and exciting group outings for single parties, scouting organizations, church, & camp; civic groups, social clubs, company outings and others wanting a beautiful flat water experience through Illinois’s hidden Bayou known as the Lower Cache River, near Ullin, Illinois.

The Lower Cache Basin is home to the Cypress Creek National Wildlife Refuge and the Cache River State Natural Area. Thousands of migrating waterfowl have made this bioregion their winter home, making this area a unique ecological treasure. This incredibly distinct area results in 4  physiographic areas including Ozark Plateau, Interior Low plateau, Coastal Plain, and Mississippi Alluvial Plain. The U.N. has it listed as a RAMSAR site “Wetland of International Importance” because of its rich diversity of plant and animal species. The Cache River Wetlands contains 60,000 acres of beautiful forests and wetlands that are inhabited by otters, bobcats, whitetail deer, bald eagles, herons, egrets, and even the occasional cormorants  are sighted periodically along the Cache during the summer months.
Contact Mark Denzer 618-201-4090

Potawatomi Paddlers Update

20220514_100459 20220514_095142 IMG_6636 IMG_0385 IMG_1855

The Potawatomi Paddlers have planned a very active paddle and event schedule for 2022.

Beginning on May 7, and on the first Saturday of each month, the PPA will be hosting paddle events on different sections of the Kankakee River, along with forays onto the Iroquois River, Vermillion River, DuPage River, and Rock Creek. All are welcome to join us. Participants must wear personal flotation devices during the paddle. While we do not provide equipment or transportation, we do help coordinate placement of vehicles at the takeout point.

 The Kankakee River is one of only thirty-three (33) rivers in the country having been designated a National Water Trail. Each section of the river is unique, from a winding bayou to a broad expanse; from broad vistas to islands; and with opportunities to spot eagles, beavers, and other wildlife. The Kankakee River is also one of the cleanest rivers in the country and provides for unparalleled fishing opportunities.

The Potawatomi Paddlers also be hosting two paddle training sessions in September designed for beginning and advanced Paddlers.

Additionally, throughout the summer, members of the PPA will be staffing an information table at various community festivals and farmers markets. Materials will be available about the PPA and our event schedule. We will also be selling 50/50 raffle tickets to help fund kayak launch enhancements along the Kankakee River.

For more information on the PPA, our event schedule and to purchase raffle tickets, please visit our website at KankakeeRiverPPA.org.


Holm v. Kodat – Decision Time!

By Scott Hays, IPC President

A few years back, Holm paddled past Kodat’s property on the Mazon River near Braidwood and Kodat cried foul. Kodat owned property along the bank of the legally “non-navigable” Mazon River – a favorite for fossil hunters and fossil hunting businesses, which both men owned. According to Illinois law, Kodat also owned the river. So Holm was trespassing on his land. While Holm was never actually arrested, the case went to trial court and in the end, Kodat won the day. Kodat could legally have a person arrested for trespassing on “his” privately owned section of the Mazon River if they merely paddled past “his” property.

The case was appealed by Holm in the 3rd District Court of Appeals (Holm v. Kodat, 2021 IL App (3d) 200164). Third District Justice Wright delivered the judgment of the court, with Justices Holdridge and Lytton concurring. Justice Wright wrote:

“based on the law that’s been provided to me, I’m going to grant the defendants’ (Kodat) motion and deny the plaintiffs’ (Holm) motion on the grounds that the fact that the Mazon River is factually non-navigable and the fact that there is private ownership of the bed of the river, which carries with it the exclusivity of ownership in the water above the property…”

This decision, while reaffirming Illinois law, also points to a key problem with Illinois law as written. That is, owners who own property on the banks of rivers also “own” the waterway and – according to this Holm decision by the Appellate Court – have the legal right to restrict access to it.

Now Holm is appealing the case to the State of Illinois Supreme Court.

In Holm v. Kodat (Holm v. KODAT, 175 NE 3d 119 – Ill: Supreme Court 2021), the rights of all paddlers on all of the rivers that IDNR has designated as “non-navigable” (all but about 30 rivers in our state) are at stake.

This Supreme Court case should be on the docket for the summer session of the court, if not sooner. And Will County Forest Preserve District has already filed a “Friend of the Court” or “Amicus” Brief to support a decision favorable to Holm. Will County Forest Preserve District writes that the implications of the Appellate Court decision are that:

“if boaters own property along a nonnavigable river, they cannot travel downstream without the consent of every other owner along the river’s route through the duration of their trip. Thus, if just one property owner is uncooperative, that individual can potentially impede all other owners from sharing in the full recreational value of the river. Or more problematic, the property owner on one side of the river could permit access, while the owner on the other side does not, resulting in a crisscrossed and patchworked route for the boater. Such a result is impractical and threatens to diminish the value of property along nonnavigable rivers, particularly those rivers that are frequently used for recreational purposes.”

As the Will County Forest Preserve put it:

“The impact of the appellate court’s decision is potentially wide-reaching. Of the 87,110 miles of rivers and stream in Illinois, only approximately 30 rivers (or portions thereof) are classified as navigable. See Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Illinois Rivers & Streams, https://www2.illinois.gov/dnr/education/pages/ilriversstreams.aspx (last visited Nov. 1, 2021) (“Illinois is bordered by 880 miles of rivers and has 87,110 miles of rivers and streams within its borders.”); 17 Ill. Admin. Code 3704.Appendix A (listing public, navigable waters).”

While the decision of the Illinois Supreme Court is likely to be just the beginning salvo in a long path to correcting the laws of our fair state to become more favorable toward we, the recreational users of Illinois rivers, a favorable decision on behalf of Holm – and by extension on behalf of recreational paddlers statewide -would be a major development to guide the future direction of Illinois river law. An unfavorable decision would be a near disaster.

Stay tuned for further developments and how you, or your paddle club or agency, can help!

Meet the New 2022 Board of the Illinois Paddling Council

The IPC Annual Meeting last November saw several changes to the IPC Board.

Four-year IPC Board Member and Advocacy Chair Scott Hays was elected to serve as the new IPC President for 2022. Scott has served as President and founding member of the Upper Sangamon River Conservancy, is a founding member of the Sangamon River Alliance, and serves a Commissioner and Vice-President on the Champaign County Forest Preserve District Board.

Stepping down was previous President Tom Eckels, who has served the organization for seven years and chairs the Water Trail Keepers program and has served as IT Webmaster and overall guru. We thank Tom for his service! Tom will continue as an IPC Board Member and has agreed to serve as secretary, taking the place of previous secretary Jennifer Satorius. And while Tom will continue to help the IPC with IT issues (while seeking a qualified volunteer replacement!), he looks forward to spending more time engaged with his first love: picking up other people’s trash from Illinois rivers and making them more beautiful for all!

Stepping down after many, many years of service on the IPC Board is Sigrid Pilgrim who, while stepping back from this role, will continue to remain very active promoting and supporting paddlesports in Illinois. Much thanks goes out to Sigrid for providing valuable connections throughout the country, for planning our Annual Meetings (back in the day when we met in person), and for coordinating our mailed newsletters.

Coming on to the IPC Board for 2022 is new board member Mike Taylor, or “Kayak Mike.” Be sure to find out more about Mike, who is our featured IPC member in this edition of our newsletter.

In an informal survey, IPC Board members identified several priorities for the coming year: 1) website improvements, 2) regular newsletter publications, 3) hosting a meeting of Illinois paddle clubs to share concerns, needs and ideas, 4) water access law in Illinois, and 5) improved river and access point mapping statewide.

We thank those who have served and welcome our new members and others into their new roles!


River Rally is heading to Washington, DC from June 4-7, 2022!


Hosted annually by River Network, River Rally provides an inspiring and energy-infused touchpoint for nonprofit groups from across the US and beyond, as well as for agency and foundation representatives, industry innovators, philanthropists, academics, students, and community leaders. River Rally brings thought leaders and practitioners together to accelerate progress towards an equitable and sustainable water future.

Meeting in-person for 2022 (with many layers of COVID-19 protections in place, including required vaccinations), River Rally will gather along the banks of the Potomac River in our nation’s capital to mark the 50th anniversary of the Clean Water Act, one of the most comprehensive environmental statutes in the United States. The River Rally 2022 program will feature speakers celebrating this and other clean water victories and center equity across all topics, while illuminating today’s most urgent challenge: climate change.

For more information about River Rally and to register, visit: https://www.rivernetwork.org/connect-learn/river-rally/

The Jolliet Marquette 350th Expedition Website is LIVE!


By Greg Taylor, IPC Board Member

The 350th Anniversary Jolliet Marquette Expedition website is LIVE! This could be your opportunity for the chance and experience of a lifetime!

The site is jollietmarquette350.com or JM350.com.

The expedition is looking for qualified applicants between the ages of 20-40ish to participate for the duration of the expedition. This won’t be a walk in the park, but for a person who can dedicate themselves to a hoot of a time and is willing to develop their character (unless you already are one, and I want to talk to you then already), this is a very safe, well-planned, and equipped historic adventure. You will be thoroughly vetted. Make no mistake, success of journey will not be won lightly, but it is fully achievable and succeed we will!

I am looking for applicants in two categories.

First is the canoe crew –  the performers and canoe/campers using 21st century technology, but who are a 15th century, fun-loving band of like-minded souls. Crew participants will be provided with the necessary clothing and accessories that will be historic renditions of the daily lives of 1670s voyagers. Twenty-first century quality versions of course.

Second is the Liaison Crew members, the forward ground verification team. This crew will be critical to the canoe crew’s success. They will be clothed just the same as the trip re-enactors, as 15th Century French Voyagers.

Together we will be learning how to build the canoes, to cut and shape the paddles, to camp, and to paddle a 20-foot, Ojibwa style, Ralph Frese designed and engineered work of art. Along the way, we’lll be learning French paddling songs and a healthy dose of French pre-colonial North American history from one of the leading published writers of the subject in America.

Anyone willing to learn can apply. From babysitters, lawn maintenance persons, to accountants or a hedge fund manager! Anyone at all!  More info at our new website: JM350.com

What are you waiting for?

2021/2022 Racing Program Update


By Don Mueggenborg, IPC Board Member

During 2021, the racing program suffered as it tried to return from the effects of the virus and shutdowns.  The Current Buster on the Fox in the Spring, the Pontiac Race on the Vermillion surpassed 50 years, the Joe Kowsky Race was switched to the Vermillion, the Vic Hopp race was held starting in Wisconsin and traveling to Illinois – and back to the start on the Fox, and finally the Fall Classic on the Fox.  Race attendance was low but the racers enjoyed being back on the water.  Pat Faul and Steve Conlon raced in all the races and won their class so they are the 2021 Champions.

A beginner’s race was held on Whelan Lake and well attended with many people racing for the first time.  Thanks to Joe for his efforts.

On a more positive note, plans are underway for the Des Plaines River Canoe, Kayak, Paddleboard Marathon, currently set for May 22, 2022. The marathon is the longest running canoe race in the US and the 2nd longest in North America.  It is also the largest single day race in North America – with over 600 entries. Like many events, the marathon was not held in 2021 due to the virus, but the plan is to be back in full force for 2022.

The Marathon event includes a long course (the original course started 65 years ago) of 18.5 miles and a shorter 5.25 mile course that ends at the same place as the longer course. There are classes for competitive paddlers in both canoes and kayaks, but there will also be classes for recreational paddlers in both divisions.  For many people, this will be their first canoe race ever.

Registration opens March 1, 2022.  People who have entered in the last five years will receive an email notification.  Registration is available online, or download the registration form from the web site at www.canoemarathon.com