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A New Canoe/Kayak Launch is in the future for DuPage!

Image of Graue MillBy Connie Schmidt 

There is a proposal for a dam removal project on Salt Creek at Fullersburg Woods. Over the past 18 months, the DuPage River Salt Creek Work Group (DRSCWG) has been preparing a Master Plan for Salt Creek at Fullersburg, which includes dam removal, and over a mile of stream restoration. The draft Master Plan is now complete and they are ready to present it to the public and solicit comments . 

There will be two live webinars on July 7 at 7 pm and July 9 at 11 am to view the presentation for the upgrades. Registration is required and can be done through the www.restoresaltcreek.org website.  If anyone cannot attend, the webinars will be recorded and posted on the RestoreSaltCreek website for viewing later.  

In addition, contacting the Forest Preserve of DuPage board of Commissioners is important.  They are the decision makers on this project as they own the property.  Here is a link for them: https://www.dupageforest.org/our-board/board-commissioners  

There are many benefits to removing the dam: improving water quality in Salt Creek, restoring fish and macroinvertebrate biodiversity, increasing access to recreational and educational opportunities, and saving taxpayers millions of dollars through this cost-effective approach to improving water quality and stream habitats. A canoe/kayak launch is planned along the river at this point as well.  

It is important to know that the historic Graue Mill and its operations will be preserved; and in fact, arguably enhanced with improved aesthetics from stream bank restoration and the planned additional amenities such as a canoe/kayak launch that will attract more people to the site. 

This project is part of the DRSCWG’s Special Condition and is the last project remaining on the TMDL Alternative Plan (Dam removals at Churchill Woods and Oak Meadows are already completed). It is very difficult to see how a satisfactory fish population can be established on Salt Creek while the Graue dam remains intact. 

You can visit (and share) the www.restoresaltcreek.org website for additional information. 

In addition, please go to this site and sign a petition for this project to be completed.  https://act.sierraclub.org/actions/Illinois?actionId=AR0272531 

News Release: New Paddlecraft Safety Effort Starts at the Water’s Edge

stop sign with pfd; always wear your life jacket
USCGA Safety Sign

Canoeists and kayakers may soon see a red safety sign posted at launch ramps and other water access areas across the country. The new safety sign is part of an ongoing effort to reduce the number of paddle sport fatalities.  USCG Recreational Boating Statistics show that, between 2013 and 2018, an average of 133 paddlers died each year – nearly a quarter of all boating deaths.  The vast majority of these paddlers were not wearing a lifejacket and drowned.    

The sign resembles a stop sign and carries a simple message – Stop. Always Wear Your Life Jacket.  “The purpose of this program is to remind paddlers that the single most important factor in preventing drowning is to wear an appropriate life jacket,” said Robert E. Kumpf, of the Coast Guard Auxiliary.  

The Coast Guard Auxiliary, the National Safe Boating Council, the Water Sports Foundation, and regional paddling organizations have worked together to promote paddlecraft safety. For more information about the Coast Guard Auxiliary’s paddlecraft safety programs please visit the Recreational Boating Safety Outreach Directorate’s website by clicking the link.

The Coast Guard Auxiliary is the uniformed civilian component of the U.S. Coast Guard and supports the Coast Guard in nearly all mission areas. The Auxiliary was created by Congress in 1939. For more information, please visit www.cgaux.org 

Recreational Boating Statistics

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WASHINGTON — The U.S. Coast Guard has released its 2019 Recreational Boating Statistics Report, revealing that there were 613 boating fatalities nationwide in 2019, a 3.2 percent decrease from 2018.

From 2018 to 2019, the total number of accidents increased 0.6 percent (4,145 to 4,168), and the number of non-fatal injured victims increased 1.9 percent (2,511 to 2,559).

Alcohol continued to be the leading known contributing factor in fatal boating accidents in 2019, accounting for over 100 deaths, or 23 percent of total fatalities.

The report also shows that in 2019:
• The fatality rate was 5.2 deaths per 100,000 registered recreational vessels, which tied as the second lowest rate in the program’s history. This rate represents a 1.9 percent decrease from last year’s fatality rate of 5.3 deaths per 100,000 registered recreational vessels.
• Property damage totaled about $55 million.
• Operator inattention, improper lookout, operator inexperience, excessive speed, and alcohol use ranked as the top five primary contributing factors in accidents.

Where the cause of death was known, 79 percent of fatal boating accident victims drowned. Of those drowning victims with reported life jacket usage, 86 percent were not wearing a life jacket.

Capt. Scott Johnson, chief of the Office of Auxiliary and Boating Safety at Coast Guard Headquarters, cited one case in November, in which a party of eight in Indiana attempted to cross the White River in a 14-ft boat. Overloaded, it capsized sending occupants into the water. Five perished from drowning as a result, including a 6-year old child. None of the victims were wearing a life jacket.

“It’s critical for boaters to wear a life jacket at all times because it very likely will save your life. Ensure that it is serviceable, properly sized, and correctly worn.” Johnson noted that sometimes victims had not fastened their life jacket properly, or had not replaced the expired cartridge in their inflatable life jacket. In one case, the cartridge had been modified, making it ineffective as a lifesaving device.

Where boating instruction was known, 70 percent of deaths occurred on vessels where the operator had not received boating safety instruction. The Coast Guard recommends that all boaters take a boating safety course that meets the National Boating Education Standards prior to getting out on the water.

The most common vessel types involved in reported accidents were open motorboats, personal watercraft, and cabin motorboats. Where vessel type was known, the vessel types with the highest percentage of deaths were open motorboats (48 percent), kayaks (14 percent), and personal watercraft (8 percent).

The Coast Guard reminds all boaters to boat responsibly on the water: wear a life jacket, take a boating safety course, attach the engine cut-off switch, get a free vessel safety check, and boat sober.

“We praise our boating safety partners,” said Johnson. “Together we strive to reduce loss of life, injuries and property damage by increasing the knowledge and skill of recreational boaters.”

Little Calumet River Cleanup Video

Check out this video about the Little Calumet River Cleanup!

https://youtu.be/_zfoc_kjkaw

Michael Taylor, Steward of the Little Calumet River in Illinois had a busy day at Kickapoo Woods. First, he was co-hosting the cleanup along with the Forest Preserves of Cook County, Openlands, and the Illinois Paddling Council. Later in the day he lead free kayak and canoe training for residents from around the Riverdale area.

The Little Calumet River has a west and an east arm. Kickapoo Woods borders it’s west arm in Riverdale. The river flows over 100 miles through the towns of Portage, Lake Station, Gary, Highland, Griffith, Munster, and Hammond, and in Illinois – South Holland, Dolton, Lansing, Calumet City, Harvey, Riverdale, Phoenix, Dixmoor, Burnham, and Blue Island. https://fpdcc.com/places/locations/ki…

A presentation of Calumet Films, video by Most Visual. http://mostvis.com

To Cancel or Not to Cancel – That is the Question

By Sigrid Pilgrim

My husband, Alan, is Co-Chair of the Des Plaines River Canoe & Kayak Marathon (DPRM). The advent of the Corona pandemic, social distancing, stay-at-home orders, the closing of the lakefront, playgrounds and more, caused a week-long agonizing back-and-forth discussion by the DPRM board whether to maintain registration for the event or to cancel it completely – which was the ultimate painful decision.

The Forest Preserves of Cook County also announced the cancellation of all planned events, including the Ralph Frese Memorial Trip on the North Branch of the Chicago River scheduled for early May. The Prairie State Canoeists Club also announced cancellation of all planned trips.

As disappointing to us paddlers as these cancellations are, I hope we still can enjoy our sport later this year when the stay-at-home order is gradually lifted and individually – not in groups – we can take our boat to a river or lake. We can be thankful that our sport allows us to enjoy paddling away from crowds, even if our favorite “crowd-events” are cancelled.

Let’s Go Paddling the (Dam) Fox River

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By Don Mueggenborg

There are a total of 13 dams on the Fox in Illinois – most are easy portages.

As long as you use some sense, rivers are a good way to keep social distance and enjoy nature. The Fox is the longest and deepest river of all the fine rivers in the collar counties.  Along the way, you will pass parks and forest preserves, some beautiful homes, and historic buildings.

The Fox is really three different types of river. There are pools of deeper water. There are sections where there are ripples where you have to navigate to find the best channel (the part I like best). And finally, there is one of the most scenic rivers in the Midwest.

1) Stay away from the upper Fox- the Chain of Lakes – in the summer time when canoes and kayaks seem to be fair game for the power boaters and jet skis. (To be fair, they are either ignorant of the danger they pose or are too drunk.)

2) The dams. Paddle from pool to pool (good way to use the dams).

John Duer (sp) Kane Co. Forest Preserve off Rt 31 to St. Charles – (take out Ferson Creek (rt) or Pottawatamie Park (left)
St. Mary’s Park, St. Charles to Geneva (take/portage way river left)
Geneva to Batavia (take out Batavia Boat Club river left or portage river (go rt of island)
Batavia to North Aurora (take out/portage river right)
North Aurora to Aurora (easiest take-out on island)

3) The ripples (I like the challenge of having to read the river.)
Algonquin to Dundee (river rt at dam) or Voyageur landing
South Elgin (park river left, block south of highway) to John Duer (stay way right at foot bridge)
Oswego to Yorkville to Silver Springs State Park to Shuh Shuh Gah Canoe launch (off Whittfield Rd – Kendall Co FPD)

There is a whitewater course in Yorkville that you might want to run instead of portage (but not in a Kevlar or carbon fiber boat).

4) The scenic Shuh Shuh Gah (you try to pronounce it) through Sheridan to Wedron
However – this is all private land and you have to park at the livery in Sheridan or one of the two liveries in Wedron.

This area has high bluffs, a cave, beautiful scenery – what a shame it is not public.

You could paddle from Shu Shu or Silver Springs and past Wedron and portage the dam at Dayton (river right).

If you want more information, contact me.

Where Is My Sea Kayak Rack

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By Sigrid Pilgrim

For years I have been fortunate that the City of Evanston has a boat storage facility at the Dempster Street Beach on Lake Michigan. It’s nice to have the boat there and just be able to pull it off the rack rather than cartopping it there.

I went for a walk on Thursday, April 30, and “WHERE IS MY RACK?” I have rack Nr. 200, which is completely buried by the sand that the huge waves have covered much of the beach. I hope the City can find it so I can put my boat there again.

Choices on Where to Paddle

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-By Greg Taylor

According to an article in the Ozarks Independent, a 30-year-old man was probably caught up in a “hydraulic” below a dam on Lake Springfield on the James river in Missouri. From reading the article and a few others from other local news sources, he was fishing from a kayak he had just bought and may have gotten too close to the rushing water and fell in. He did not have a life vest on or the ability to swim and it was dark. I am assuming it was below the dam since fish congregate in the aerated water dams create. Unfortunately, humans are also attracted to that and may not understand the dangers dam water spillover create.

I know most, if not all, of you are considerably wiser than this poor fellow – that is one of the reasons you are reading this now. Understand risk management with boating, and you would not make choices such as these. I am sure your immediate friends would not either – that is one of the reasons you associate with them in the first place. You the informed and intelligent public are what I’m banking on to hopefully talk about some of the aspects of these poor choices among your groups to further the reach of safe boating and better choices in enjoying the rewards of our sport. Remember that exponential growth concept? One tells two who tell four who tell eight and so on?

I know you all understand the better choices to be made and you’ve heard this safety message before, as well as those within your individual groups, but there are those beyond your groups that only the people within your groups have influence on. Friends that hopefully will get it from them in a conversation because of this. If you get a chance, please find a way to bring this up in a conversation. You never know how far your influence can actually travel.

We all have heard stories like this one in one form or another, and it is a shame we must repeat them, but by repeating them we reinforce the positives of what negative risk management can cause. So please talk beyond us about this.

President, Potawatomi Paddlers Associaion

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By Frank Koehler

POTAWATOMI PADDLERS TO PARTICIPATE IN DRAGON BOAT RACES
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.

POTAWATOMI PADDLERS ANNOUNCE SECOND ANNUAL KAYAK RAFFLE
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.

POTAWATOMI PADDLERS TO BEGIN 2020 PADDLE SEASON
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.

POTAWATOMI PADDLERS AWARED GRANT FROM COMMUNITY FOUNDAITON OF KANKAKEE RIVER VALLEY

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.

Have You Paddled the ??????

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By Don Mueggenborg

Some places seldom paddled in Illinois:

The Fox River between Silver Springs State Park and Shuh Shuh Gun Canoe Landing.
We discovered this canoe landing a couple years ago. The river is much like the river from Yorkville to Silver Springs with ripples to navigate and forest lined banks. Solitude. The trick is finding Shuh Shuh Gum (Kendal County FPD).

Skokie Lagoons – built by WPA in the 1930’s – a series of pools and islands and an adventure discovering all the different ways to go. A place near the city to get away from it all.

Sangamon River – I have paddled in the Decauter area and from Springfield to New Salem. The river winds among forests, not many residents along the way.

The Spoon – called the Grand Canyon of Illinois because of the clay banks streaked with red, brown, black. At normal water levels, the river sneaks and curves through canyons and farm country.

Blackberry Creek – I put in at Bliss Woods and paddled to Prairie St., Aurora. A narrow little creek – fun, but prone to log jams after a storm.

Pecatonica River – The Friends of the Pecatonica have done a great job building boat launches. River winds through farmland and forests.

Canals

Hennipin Canal – The canal runs from the Illinois River (sorry no access at the Illinois – go to the town of Tiskilwa) to the Mississippi River. No longer used for anything but recreation. It is fun to paddle through the whistles (tubes that go under the roads). I liked camping at Mineral and Wyanet. Interesting museum.

I & M Canal – Channahan to Gehardt Wood. You paddle on an aqueduct in a couple places. This could be a paddle and bike trip.