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Category: Stewardship

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.
























Annual Dinner Reminder

IPC Members and Friends:
This is a friendly reminder to reserve your spot at the IPC annual dinner meeting. We need reservations by Wednesday 10/19/16 Please email president@illinoispaddling.org with any questions or to reserve a spot and pay at the door.
IPC Annual Dinner Meeting
5-9pm 10/22/16 Various Pizzas, Salad and Soft Drinks to be provided
$20 per Person or $35 includes annual membership in IPC
Children under 14–Free
Historic Warrenville Tavern
3 S 530 2nd Street
Warrenville IL. 60555
Mail Check to: Jack Snarr 2316 Prospect Avenue, Evanston IL 60201
5-5:30 Networking
5:30-6 IPC Business Meeting
IPC Year in Review
Election of Officers
Competition Awards
6-6:30 Dinner
6:30-8:30 Presentation: Carol Hays from Prairie River Networks and Scott Hays from the Upper Sangamon River Conservancy “How paddlers can connect people to rivers and wildlife and the need to do that for many reasons. How the USRC has accomplished this on the upper Sangamon”
8:30-9 Networking

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

June 4 on the Little Calumet River

Celebrate the Little Calumet River with recreation and environment activities and learn about the history and ecology of the Little Cal!

Clean up tools, breakfast snacks and lunch will be provided.

This year we will begin at Kickapoo Woods in Riverdale. Advanced paddlers and those with their own boats are asked to bring them. Those needing a loaner boat and inexperienced paddlers are also invited to attend. There is no charge for this event, but all participants must register in advance, indicating whether or not you are bringing their own boat during registration.

Tentative Schedule

River Clean Up.  9:00am – 12:30pm.  Two teams–one launching upstream, another downstream–for on-water clean up. Return to launch ramp in time for lunch.

Introduction to Canoeing. 9:00am instruction, 9:30-10:30am paddle; 11:00am instruction, 11:30-12:30pm paddle; 1:00pm instruction, 1:30-2:30pm paddle.

Introduction to Kayaking. 9:00am instruction, 9:30-10:30am paddle; 11:00am instruction, 11:30-12:30pm paddle; 1:00pm instruction, 1:30-2:30pm paddle.

Wrap up & Clean. 2:30pm

Sign up now by clicking Register!

Lake Michigan Water Trail: Next Step for IPC

By Laurie Morse (IPC Member and Lake Michigan Water Trail project advocate)lmich water trail

The Lake Michigan Water Trail – a paddling route around the shorelines of all four states of this wonderful Great Lake – has been in development for at least a half-dozen years. You may have heard about it, and wondered where we are in the effort. The vision — an official, cohesive water trail continuous around the entire lake, with access and exit points every five miles, with camping along some shores, world-class scenery and off-trail amenities – is majestic and inspiring.

The foundation for achieving this vision was laid in June, 2011, when the US Department of Interior designated the Lake Michigan shoreline from New Buffalo Michigan, across the entire Indiana coast, and the complete City of Chicago lakefront as a National Recreational Trail (NRT). The powerhouse behind this 75-miles of trail designation was the Northwest Indiana Paddling Association (NWIPA). NWIPA leadership solicited letters of support for the trail designation, negotiated with Indiana landowners and the Chicago Park District, and jumped the hurdles required to get this first portion of the trail approved.

It was a big job, but their work will make our job – getting national recreational trail designation extended up the Illinois coast to Wisconsin, and beyond – easier. The Illinois Paddling Council recently learned that to extend the Lake Michigan trail the 40 miles from Leone Beach in Chicago north through Illinois Beach State Park will not require a separate application for trail designation. We can piggy back on the work done by the Indiana paddlers. What’s needed? Local enthusiasm by paddler groups and other stakeholders. This means letters of support from the local landowners (read: lakeside Park Districts) saying they support extension of the trail designation, and from IPC paddlers and friends.

Once the Illinois and Indiana NRTs are established, the IPC and NWIPA can lead the application for National Water Trail designation for the full circle, 4-state Lake Michigan shoreline. And while we are working on completing the trail on the Illinois shore, Michigan paddlers will be doing the same on the east coast of the Lake.

What is a National Recreational Trail? These trails are designated by the US Secretary of Interior or the Secretary of Agriculture as exemplary trails of local and regional significance. The National Recreation Trails Program supports designated trails with an array of benefits, including promotion, technical assistance, networking, and access to funding. The aim is to promote the use and care of existing trails and stimulate the development of new trails.

These goals match the IPC’s top priorities – to develop water trails and improve access to Illinois Waterways. That’s what we do, and that’s why this project is important to us. The IPC has been instrumental in seeking National Water Trail designation for the Kankakee River, and has supported public access and trail development on rivers throughout northeast Illinois. Now it’s time to add Lake Michigan to this network of water trails.

The Lake Michigan NRT extension on the Illinois shore will provide communities with all that water trails often bring: social and economic opportunities; recreational and health benefits, and opportunities for stewardship, both on the Lake and on the shore. The remaining 40 miles of Illinois Shore is made up of five suburban communities in Cook County (Evanston, Wilmette, Kenilworth, Winnetka, and Glencoe) and nine coastal towns in Lake County (Highland Park, Highwood/Ft. Sheridan, Lake Forest, Lake Bluff, North Chicago, Waukegan, Zion and Winthrop Harbor). The coastal terrain is sandy dunes, which transition to ravines and bluffs, through the industrial shores and working harbor at Waukegan, ending at the sandy shores and campgrounds at Illinois Beach State Park. Working with 14 or more landowners can be complicated, but so far, local governments have been excited about this project. In fact, the IPC, partnering with the Illinois Shore Committee for the Lake Michigan Trail Network, has already had these successes:

  1. Safety: The Illinois Lake Michigan coast, while the most populated of the Great Lakes, did not have a real-time, near shore weather data buoy. Maritime forecasts had to depend on in-lake data from buoys in Milwaukee and Indiana. With the support of our Illinois Shore Committee, Purdue University was able to fund and deploy a near shore weather buoy off Winnetka last summer. The buoy comes back on-line for the summer this month.
  1. Access: The 14 coastal communities on the North Shore have varying levels of public access. Wealthier communities offer many beachfront amenities, for a price. But in Lake County, there are beaches closed for lack of resources or because of contamination. The Illinois Shore Committee is advocating for the re-opening of Foss Park Beach in North Chicago, and partnered with the Waukegan Port District to place a new, free canoe launch – with parking – in Waukegan Harbor. The Harbor, long contaminated by toxins, has been cleaned up, is now safe for human contact, and paddling is newly encouraged.
  1. Special needs: The Waukegan Port District, with funding partners, will install a handicap-accessible canoe and kayak launch at the new canoe landing in Waukegan Harbor. This will be the first assisted launch on the Illinois shore of Lake Michigan.

Next steps for Lake Michigan trail progress in Illinois include an interactive, crowd-sourced map of the proposed trail extension, where paddlers can share their experiences as they tour this part of the coastline, and an extensive letter-of-support campaign.


Friends of the Pecatonica River Foundation History: An Abbreviated Version

By Roger Schamberger

Most Friendly Paddle in the State of Illinois

The Friends of the Pecatonica River Foundation (FPRF) was organized November 13, 2008, as a 501[c]3 not-for-profit organization through the Community Foundation of Northern Illinois. In early 2006, several like-minded individuals worked on the very first landing on Cedarville Road, which is now known as McNeil’s Damascus Landing. This 1.4 acre parcel was purchased for $20,000. The next landing started with the acquisition of 20.74 acres for $10.00 from Stephenson County. This was in May of 2008. It is known as McConnell’s “Bobtown” Landing. Tom Lindblade paddled this 7.9-mile stretch of the Pecatonica River and referred to it as the “Most Friendly Paddle in the State of Illinois.” The next acquisition was 5.35 acres on Farwell Bridge Road, as a donation, on December 30, 2009. This landing is located in eastern Stephenson County and is nearly 70% complete. All landings are publicly owned. The FPRF has a development/management agreement with Stephenson County.

The FPRF is continually working to improve the quality of the Pecatonica River in Stephenson County. The Stephenson County Board recognized the Pecatonica River as a “Blue Trail” in March of 2006. The National Park Service provided a Master Plan Grant to the FPRF for 58 miles of river development in 2010. The Governor’s Hometown Award [GHA], recognizing McNeil’s Damascus Landing, was awarded to the FPRF on October 26, 2011. The Illinois House of Representatives designated the Pecatonica River as a Water Trail in Illinois on February 23, 2012, by way of a resolution written by the FPRF. The National Park Service – Department of the Interior – recognized Atten’s Landing as part of their Rivers and Trails Program. This was the only project in Illinois. We are making great progress.

Our current project is Atten’s Landing. Atten’s Landing was donated for public use by Chuck & Marion Atten. This 5.35 acre parcel is located on the eastern edge of Stephenson County and is our fourth landing on the Pecatonica River. We have four more to go. This project is being developed as a “Wetland” and will have canoe-kayak launch, small motor boat access, and more. The FPRF has moved about 13,800 cubic yards of dirt, built the entry drive and parking area base (elevated about 5’ above existing elevation), buried 675’ of underground electric, installed poles, ADA fishing piers, concrete picnic tables, concrete pads, benches, removed 45+ stumps, and now has 22 new “wetland” trees – donated by The Bruce Company of Verona – planted. All material and labor have been donated to this project. The FPRF survives entirely on donations. There are many kind individuals who recognize what we are doing and why we are doing it. We are extremely grateful for all the support that helps us create facilities that will be enjoyed for many generations.

The FPRF has been very fortunate to have had several pieces of equipment donated to us. We have a 1983 International tandem dump truck, 1994 GMC/White Semi Tractor, a double drop semi-trailer, a 966B CAT endloader (38,798 pound unit), a 960B John Deere excavator (39,543 pound unit), a Ford L9000 truck, and a huge military four-wheel drive dump truck.


We are 100% committed to the Pecatonica River.

The Pecatonica River in Stephenson County has had a significant increase in use in the last seven years. The FPRF is working hard to develop access, promote events, reduce flooding, improve wildlife habitat, increase educational awareness, and provide continued clean-ups. The FPRF has adopted all 58 miles of the river in Stephenson County as our responsibility.

This weekend, the FPRF is finishing the clearing and clean-up of Hancock Marina (named by Lee Butler). Nearly 100 trees, noxious weeds, bushes, and decades of garbage will have been cleared to improve a neglected area in Freeport. It will make a good fishing area, and hopefully, safer parking lot.

Cleanup Corner: Cleanup Dates


Wow, its only March, and already there are more than 20 cleanups on the calendar. Water TrailKeepers is happy to partner with other organizations, promote stewardship activities, recruit volunteers, and when we can provide additional support. Contact WTK Program manager Tom Eckels at program-manager@watertrailkeepers.org to add your event to the calendar.


  • April 3, Upper DesPlaines River, Reach TBD
  • April 30, Upper DesPlaines River, Reach TBD
  • May 14, Willow Creek Cleanup
  • May 15, Upper DesPlaines River, Reach TBD
  • June 4, Little Calumet River
  • June 11, Upper DesPlaines River, Reach TBD
  • July 9, Upper DesPlaines River, Reach TBD
  • July 23, Fox River in St Charles
  • July 31, Pecatonica River Cleanup
  • Aug 6, Upper DesPlaines River, Reach TBD
  • Aug 6, Fox River in Oswego
  • August, Date TBD, Kishwaukee River in Boon County
  • Sept 10, Rock River Sweep
  • Sept 10, Upper DesPlaines River between Cook and Lake County
  • Sept 10, Willow Creek Cleanup
  • Sept 17, Upper DesPlaines River, Reach TBD
  • Sept 17, Fox River in Algonquin ‘River Days’
  • Oct 8, Upper DesPlaines River, Reach TBD
  • Oct 29, Upper DesPlaines River, Reach TBD
  • Nov 12, Upper DesPlaines River, Reach TBD
  • Dec 3, Upper DesPlaines River, Reach TBD

Beware The Fishhook!

By Don Mueggenborgfish hook

It was an early spring day – sun shining, water up a little.

Time to get the rust off, get out on the river. In this case, it was the lower DesPlaines.

We launched at our favorite spot in Lemont and headed upstream. Peanut Butter Andersen in the stern.

When we paddled together, we took turns paddling bow or stern. That way we were more aware of what the other paddler has to do. And the stern paddler doesn’t have to be reminded to call the “hut” because next time he will be in the bow.

About twenty minutes into the trip, we decided to go up Hennebry Creek. A narrow creek that winds from the RR tracks to the river – actually – in the right conditions, we might paddle into the Waterfall Glenn Forest Preserve (never have found the right conditions though).

Saw some beaver signs, birds, and a deer. Great to be out!

Time to head back home.

As we approached the river, we swung under a branch. Fortunately, we were not going very fast.

I felt it – like a sting on the ear. “Dave, I think I know what a fish feels like when he is caught. I think I have a fishhook in my ear.”

Who knows how long that line and hook were dangling from the branch. I guess I was lucky it had been a long time. The line broke without tearing my ear and without pulling me into the water.

Now, we picked up racing speed – to the truck and to the doctor’s office.

“Nurse,” the doctor whispered, “get the pliers out of the janitor’s closet.”

A couple stitches, a tetanus shot. I was free to go.

I was lucky. It could have been an eye. Beware, especially in the spring. Fishermen don’t really want to snag trees and catch paddlers – but it can happen.

Paddle Green Earth Day Cleanup

Greetings and Happy New Year!

This spring the ACA is coordinating a Paddle Green Earth Day Cleanup weekend watershed cleanup. As an incentive for groups to host a cleanup, the ACA is offering a chance to win a weekend of free instruction in SUP, Canoe, or Kayak from an ACA Instructor Trainer. We are asking ACA State Directors to help us get the word out to the community so that together we can clean up our watersheds and raise awareness about water quality issues.

Who can host an event?

Any ACA member, PAC, of OLG may host a cleanup event and be registered to win a weekend of instruction for the group. Volunteers helping in the cleanup do not have to be ACA members.

Where should cleanups be held?

Cleanups can take place on any waterway, streams, rivers, bay, ocean, estuary, lake….. We encourage paddlers to remove marine debris from areas that are only accessible by boat for a part of the cleanup.

When should these cleanups be scheduled?

Paddle Green Earth Day Cleanups should be scheduled any of the following days: Friday April 22nd through Sunday April 24th, 2016.

What are the incentives for hosting a cleanup?

The ACA will provide two prizes as incentives to participating groups in the Paddle Green Earth Day Cleanup. The first prize will be given to the group that removes the most Marine Debris. The second prize will be drawn at random from the list of groups that report an eligible cleanup. Each incentive will be a weekend (two 6 hour days) of skills training to any group (not more than 10 persons in a training each day). Groups can choose courses from the canoe, coastal kayak, or SUP disciplines. Skills courses must be held in 2016. The ACA will provide the Instructor Trainer for the skills course(s). Course Participants must provide their own boats, gear, and transportation.

How can my group become eligible to win a weekend of skills training?

Groups can become eligible for the incentives by:

  • Register your cleanup online by visiting the website and submitting a completed registration form. Your cleanup will be posted to the ACA calendar.
  • Engaging a minimum of 10 volunteers in a waterway marine debris clean up on April 22nd, 23rd, or 24th, 2016.
  • Each volunteer must pick up at least 1 paddle Green Bag (or the equivalent) of Marine Debris from a waterway and dispose of it properly.
  • Each group must submit a completed cleanup report form to the ACA using either the online report form, or by submitting a paper report form by April 29th 2016.
  • Each group’s report must include a picture of the cleanup activities and a brief (250 words +/-) description of your cleanup project to be posted on the ACA webpage, showing your group’s stewardship work. (Due April 29, 2016)

When will groups know if they received the incentive?

Recipients will be selected at random at the ACA office on May 2, and will be notified by email by May 6, 2016.

We look forward to your participation in keeping our waterways clean and healthy!