Home » Illinois Paddling Council Blog


Illinois – according to Wikipedia has 98 rivers. Our state is bordered by 880 miles of rivers and contains a total of 87,110 miles of rivers and streams. IDNR’s list of Public Waters names 48 rivers and lakes, several multiple times. Eliminating the multiple listings for different navigable sections of the same rivers and lakes, there are only 34 rivers officially navigable, which of course, includes such rivers as the Mississippi, Ohio, and Illinois, not always on our most favorite list of rivers to paddle, with, of course, some exceptions.

This special issue of the ILLINOIS PADDLER is dedicated to the group of paddlers, private and public entities, that are working together to establish water trails, the definition of which is

Water trails are marked routes on navigable waterway such as rivers, lakes, canals and coastlines for recreational use. They allow access to waterways for non-motorized boats and sometimes motorized vessels, inner tubes, and other craft.

But this simple definition holds a vast treasure of benefits when National Park Service created the National Water Trails System in 1968:

Recreation Opportunities: The water trail route has established public access points that accommodate a diversity of trip lengths and provide access to a variety of opportunities for recreation and education.

Education: The water trail users are provided with opportunities to learn about the value of water resources, cultural heritage, boating skills, and outdoor ethics.

Conservation: The water trail provides opportunities for communities to develop and implement strategies that enhance and restore the health of the local waterways and surrounding lands.

Community Support: Local communities provide support and advocacy for the maintenance and stewardship of the water trail.

Public Information: The public is provided with accessible and understandable water trail information, including details for identifying access and trail routes; cultural, historic, and natural features; hazards; and water quality. The water trail is promoted to the community and broad national audience.

Trail Maintenance: Demonstrate ability to support routine and long-term maintenance investments on the water trail. Facilities are designed, constructed, and maintained incorporating sustainability principles.

Planning: Maintain a water trail plan that describes a vision, desired future conditions, and strategies to strengthen best management practices.

So congratulations to those groups whose efforts have created or are working hard to establish a now national or state recognized water trail.

hb 435 FULL TEXT

Below is the full text of HB 434.  This repeals the Usage Stemp for Canoes and Kayaks.  Initially we thought that canoes and kayaks would need to register for a 3 year term.  however, as the bill is written, non powered water craft are excluded from this requirement.


Public Act 100-0469

HB0434 Enrolled LRB100 06000 RJF 16029 b
    AN ACT concerning government.
    Be it enacted by the People of the State of Illinois,
represented in the General Assembly:
    Section 5. The Boat Registration and Safety Act is amended
by changing Sections 3-1, 3-2, 3-5, 3-9, 3-11, 3A-1, and 4-1 as
    (625 ILCS 45/3-1)  (from Ch. 95 1/2, par. 313-1)
    Sec. 3-1. Unlawful operation of unnumbered watercraft.
Every watercraft other than non-powered watercraft on waters
within the jurisdiction of this State shall be numbered. No
person may operate, use, or store or give permission for the
operation, usage, or storage of any such watercraft on such
waters unless it has on board while in operation: the
watercraft is numbered
    (A) A valid certificate of number is issued in accordance
with this Act, or in accordance with applicable Federal law, or
in accordance with a Federally-approved numbering system of
another State, and unless:
        (1) the pocket sized certificate of number awarded to
    such watercraft is in full force and effect; or
        (2) the operator is in possession of a valid 60 day
    temporary permit under this Act. , and (2)
    (B) The the identifying number set forth in the certificate


of number is displayed on each side of the bow of such
    The certificate of number, lease, or rental agreement
required by this Section shall be available at all times for
inspection at the request of a federal, State, or local law
enforcement officer on the watercraft for which it is issued.
No person shall operate a watercraft under this Section unless
the certificate of number, lease, or rental agreement required
is carried on board in a manner that it can be handed to a
requesting law enforcement officer for inspection. A holder of
a certificate of number shall notify the Department within 30
days if the holder’s address no longer conforms to the address
appearing on the certificate and shall furnish the Department
with the holder’s new address. The Department may provide for
in its rules and regulations for the surrender of the
certificate bearing the former address and its replacement with
a certificate bearing the new address or for the alteration of
an outstanding certificate to show the new address of the
(Source: P.A. 97-1136, eff. 1-1-13.)
    (625 ILCS 45/3-2)  (from Ch. 95 1/2, par. 313-2)
    Sec. 3-2. Identification number application. The owner of
each watercraft requiring numbering by this State shall file an
application for number with the Department on forms approved by
it. The application shall be signed by the owner of the


watercraft and shall be accompanied by a fee as follows:
    A. (Blank).
    B. Class 1 (all watercraft less
than 16 feet in length, except
non-powered watercraft.)……………………. up to $28 $18
    C. Class 2 (all watercraft 16
feet or more but less than 26 feet in length
except canoes, kayaks, and non-motorized paddle
boats). up to $60 $50
    D. Class 3 (all watercraft 26 feet or more
but less than 40 feet in length)…………….. $150
    E. Class 4 (all watercraft 40 feet in length
or more)………………………………….. $200
    Upon receipt of the application in approved form, and when
satisfied that no tax imposed pursuant to the “Municipal Use
Tax Act” or the “County Use Tax Act” is owed, or that such tax
has been paid, the Department shall enter the same upon the
records of its office and issue to the applicant a certificate
of number stating the number awarded to the watercraft and the
name and address of the owner.
    The Department shall deposit 20% of all money collected
from watercraft registrations into the Conservation Police
Operations Assistance Fund. The monies deposited into the
Conservation Police Operations Assistance Fund under this
Section shall not be subject to administrative charges or
chargebacks unless otherwise authorized by this Act.


(Source: P.A. 97-1136, eff. 1-1-13.)
    (625 ILCS 45/3-5)  (from Ch. 95 1/2, par. 313-5)
    Sec. 3-5. Transfer of Identification Number. The purchaser
of a watercraft shall, within 15 days after acquiring same,
make application to the Department for transfer to him of the
certificate of number issued to the watercraft giving his name,
address and the number of the boat. The purchaser shall apply
for a transfer-renewal for a fee as prescribed under Section
3-2 of this Act for approximately 3 years. All transfers will
bear September 30 June 30 expiration dates in the calendar year
of expiration. Upon receipt of the application and fee,
together with proof that any tax imposed under the Municipal
Use Tax Act or County Use Tax Act has been paid or that no such
tax is owed, the Department shall transfer the certificate of
number issued to the watercraft to the new owner.
    Unless the application is made and fee paid, and proof of
payment of municipal use tax or county use tax or nonliability
therefor is made, within 30 days, the watercraft shall be
deemed to be without certificate of number and it shall be
unlawful for any person to operate the watercraft until the
certificate is issued.
    Non-powered watercraft are exempt from this Section.
(Source: P.A. 97-1136, eff. 1-1-13.)
    (625 ILCS 45/3-9)  (from Ch. 95 1/2, par. 313-9)


    Sec. 3-9. Certificate of Number. Every certificate of
number awarded pursuant to this Act shall continue in full
force and effect for approximately 3 years unless sooner
terminated or discontinued in accordance with this Act. All new
certificates issued will bear September 30 June 30 expiration
dates in the calendar year 3 years after the issuing date.
Provided however, that the Department may, for purposes of
implementing this Section, adopt rules for phasing in the
issuance of new certificates and provide for 1, 2 or 3 year
expiration dates and pro-rated payments or charges for each
    All certificates shall be renewed for 3 years from the
nearest September 30 June 30 for a fee as prescribed in Section
3-2 of this Act. All certificates will be invalid after October
15 July 15 of the year of expiration. All certificates expiring
in a given year shall be renewed between January 1 and
September 30 June 30 of that year, in order to allow sufficient
time for processing.
    The Department shall issue “registration expiration
decals” with all new certificates of number, all certificates
of number transferred and renewed and all certificates of
number renewed. The decals issued for each year shall be of a
different and distinct color from the decals of each other year
currently displayed. The decals shall be affixed to each side
of the bow of the watercraft, except for federally documented
vessels, in the manner prescribed by the rules and regulations


of the Department. Federally documented vessels shall have
decals affixed to the watercraft on each side of the federally
documented name of the vessel in the manner prescribed by the
rules and regulations of the Department.
    The Department shall fix a day and month of the year on
which certificates of number due to expire shall lapse and no
longer be of any force and effect unless renewed pursuant to
this Act.
    No number or registration expiration decal other than the
number awarded or the registration expiration decal issued to a
watercraft or granted reciprocity pursuant to this Act shall be
painted, attached, or otherwise displayed on either side of the
bow of such watercraft. A person engaged in the operation of a
licensed boat livery shall pay a fee as prescribed under
Section 3-2 of this Act for each watercraft used in the livery
    A person engaged in the manufacture or sale of watercraft
of a type otherwise required to be numbered hereunder, upon
application to the Department upon forms prescribed by it, may
obtain certificates of number for use in the testing or
demonstrating of such watercraft upon payment of $10 for each
registration. Certificates of number so issued may be used by
the applicant in the testing or demonstrating of watercraft by
temporary placement of the numbers assigned by such
certificates on the watercraft so tested or demonstrated.
    Non-powered watercraft are exempt from this Section.


(Source: P.A. 97-1136, eff. 1-1-13.)
    (625 ILCS 45/3-11)  (from Ch. 95 1/2, par. 313-11)
    Sec. 3-11. Penalty. No person shall at any time falsely
alter or change in any manner a certificate of number or water
usage stamp issued under the provisions hereof, or falsify any
record required by this Act, or counterfeit any form of license
provided for by this Act.
(Source: P.A. 97-1136, eff. 1-1-13.)
    (625 ILCS 45/3A-1)  (from Ch. 95 1/2, par. 313A-1)
    Sec. 3A-1. Certificate of title required.
    (a) Every owner of a watercraft over 21 feet in length
required to be numbered by this State and for which no
certificate of title has been issued by the Department of
Natural Resources shall make application to the Department of
Natural Resources for a certificate of title either before or
at the same time he next applies for issuance, transfer or
renewal of a certificate of number. All watercraft already
covered by a number in full force and effect which has been
awarded to it pursuant to Federal law is exempt from titling
requirements in this Act.
    (b) The Department shall not issue, transfer or renew a
certificate of number unless a certificate of title has been
issued by the Department of Natural Resources or an application
for a certificate of title has been delivered to the


(Source: P.A. 89-445, eff. 2-7-96.)
    (625 ILCS 45/4-1)  (from Ch. 95 1/2, par. 314-1)
    Sec. 4-1. Personal flotation devices.
    A. No person may operate a watercraft unless at least one
U.S. Coast Guard approved PFD of the following types or their
equivalent is on board, so placed as to be readily available
for each person: Type I, Type II or Type III.
    B. No person may operate a personal watercraft or specialty
prop-craft unless each person aboard is wearing a Type I, Type
II, Type III or Type V PFD approved by the United States Coast
Guard. No person on board a personal watercraft shall use an
inflatable PFD in order to meet the PFD requirements of
subsection A of this Section.
    C. No person may operate a watercraft 16 feet or more in
length, except a canoe or kayak, unless at least one readily
accessible United States Type IV U.S. Coast Guard approved
throwable PFD is on board or its equivalent is on board in
addition to the PFD’s required in paragraph A of this Section.
    D. (Blank). A U.S. Coast Guard approved Type V personal
flotation device may be carried in lieu of the Type I, II, III
or IV personal flotation device required in this Section, if
the Type V personal flotation device is approved for the
activity in which it is being used.
    E. When assisting a person on waterskis, aquaplane or


similar device, there must be one wearable United States U.S.
Coast Guard approved PFD on board the watercraft for each
person being assisted or towed or worn by the person being
assisted or towed.
    F. No person may operate a watercraft unless each device
required by this Section is:
        1. in serviceable condition Readily accessible;
        2. identified by a label bearing a description and
    approval number demonstrating that the device has been
    approved by the United States Coast Guard In serviceable
        3. of Of the appropriate size for the person for whom
    it is intended; and
        4. in the case of a wearable PFD, readily accessible
    aboard the watercraft; Legibly marked with the U.S. Coast
    Guard approval number.
        5. in case of a throwabale PFD, immediately available
    for use;
        6. out of its original packaging; and
        7. not stowed under lock and key.
    G. Approved personal flotation devices are defined as a
device that is approved by the United States Coast Guard under
Title 46 CFR Part 160. follows:
        Type I – A Type I personal flotation device is an
    approved device designed to turn an unconscious person in
    the water from a face downward position to a vertical or


    slightly backward position and to have more than 20 pounds
    of buoyancy.
        Type II – A Type II personal flotation device is an
    approved device designed to turn an unconscious person in
    the water from a face downward position to a vertical or
    slightly backward position and to have at least 15 1/2
    pounds of buoyancy.
        Type III – A Type III personal flotation device is an
    approved device designed to keep a conscious person in a
    vertical or slightly backward position and to have at least
    15 1/2 pounds of buoyancy.
        Type IV – A Type IV personal flotation device is an
    approved device designed to be thrown to a person in the
    water and not worn. It is designed to have at least 16 1/2
    pounds of buoyancy.
        Type V – A Type V personal flotation device is an
    approved device for restricted use and is acceptable only
    when used in the activity for which it is approved.
    H. (Blank). The provisions of subsections A through G of
this Section shall not apply to sailboards.
    I. No person may operate a watercraft under 26 feet in
length unless an approved and appropriate sized United States
Coast Guard a Type I, Type II, Type III, or Type V personal
flotation device is being properly worn by each person under
the age of 13 on board the watercraft at all times in which the
watercraft is underway; however, this requirement shall not


apply to persons who are below decks or in totally enclosed
cabin spaces. The provisions of this subsection I shall not
apply to a person operating a watercraft on an individual’s
private property.
    J. Racing shells, rowing sculls, racing canoes, and racing
kayaks are exempt from the PFD, of any type, carriage
requirements under this Section provided that the racing shell,
racing scull, racing canoe, or racing kayak is participating in
an event sanctioned by the Department as a PFD optional event.
The Department may adopt rules to implement this subsection.
(Source: P.A. 97-801, eff. 1-1-13; 98-567, eff. 1-1-14.)
    (625 ILCS 45/3-1.5 rep.)
    (625 ILCS 45/3-7.5 rep.)
    Section 10. The Boat Registration and Safety Act is amended
by repealing Sections 3-1.5 and 3-7.5.




By Don Muggenborg

(There was at least one inflatable that started – got to Dam # 1.)


For results go to canoemarathon.com


Just a few comments about the 2017 race.


From the look on the faces of the paddlers at the finish line, they were happy and often tired – people enjoyed the race as always.  Having paddled the race for over 40 years, this was as much fun as any year (well, maybe it was more fun the year I beat Ed)


Good weather, good water, and good fellowship with other paddlers – what more could you ask for?


Well, we could have had less wind and more water in the Dam # 1 area


A couple comments from some of the racers:


Hi Don,


My family loves the Minithon option! We get a taste of the race excitement but it’s short enough that everyone crosses the finish line with cheers instead of tears. Calvin (4 years old) is a seasoned veteran and proudly shows off his 3 marathon patches.  Susan (10 months old) completed her first race with smiles and squeals of joy the whole way.  It’s such a great way for my husband and me to share our love of canoeing and the outdoors with our kids.  We’re already looking forward to next year’s race!

Thank you for everything you do to keep this race going year after year!

-Christy Dahl




The Des Plaines River Canoe Marathon was fun.  I like being in the competition in the outdoors on the river.  At the end of the race it is the best because they have food, drinks, chips and a board that tells you your race time.  It was fun to meet people and see all the different boats.  




Great race as always Don!

I think this was my 6th time but first time on a SUP. A first for my 18 year old daughter, Stephanie, though she has done the race several times too, this was the first time under her own power! It’s a long way and long time to be standing on a SUP, but we did it!


The river tried to toss me two or three times when my skeg caught a submerged log! But I managed to stay on board.


It’s a different and very fun experience on a SUP, standing gives you a better perspective on the scenery. But you do have to duck more often!


We never stopped to take a break! But we were still slow, just enjoying the event and spending time with my daughter.


Thanks again for all your hard work and the other volunteers.




(I remember Stephanie as a 9 year old paddling the whole race in a kayak with her dad paddling next to her – ed note)



As far as I know, the only problem was that a paddle was lost – if anyone knows where it might have gone, let us know, please.


The food at the finish line was excellent and the band added to the fun at the finish.


About 900 people paddled or worked the marathon – numbers are going up.  If you missed this year – join us for even more fun in 2018.


Over the years some things have changed, but much has not changed.


SUP –  16 Men and 6 Women stood up and paddled the whole course.  Way to go – I would have to sit down somewhere along the line if I tried it.


Recreational Kayaks – 52 women and 85 men signed up for the recreational class – add sea kayaks, K2’s, and kayaks paddled in the Open Class and the No Contest and Minithon –  probably the most kayaks ever in the race – a lot of people fanning the air with every stroke.


Maybe that is why we had the wind.  By the time the last boats finished, it was a force to be reckoned with.  (blame the kayaks for stirring up the air.)


Eimantas and Arunas Dabauskas set the pace with a time of 2 hours, 11 miniutes in a K-2 for the fastest time of the day.  Kiril Floriv was the fastest 1 person boat at 2:21.  They hardly got their money’s worth.  Good job guys, I admire your ability.


Without a head wind perhaps they could have broken the 2 hour barrier.  And Kiril has a new challenge.


The river was free of dams for the first time in over 100 years – some fast water where Ryerson dam had been (fun) and slow water above where Dam # 1 (not fun)  was but no scrapping bottom at Hollister or portaging.  I kinda missed looking for the chute at Hollister, but not much.


Paddler in boat # 60 was 60 years old.  Paddlers in boat #  46 were doing their 46th marathon.


Ages of paddlers ranged from 1 year old (well, she really did not paddle) – some 7 year olds may have helped their folks – to my friend Ed at 83 (and he beat me in age too!)


Paddlers came from as far away as New York, Arizona, and Kentucky as well as all our neighboring Midwestern states.


It would be nice to see more juniors paddling – that is one change not for the better.  Women competition paddlers are also missing.  Of course, the women may be paddling kayaks.


We could use a few more volunteers at the start and at the finish line.  Consider paddling and working as a volunteer before or after the race.  Pay isn’t much (t-shirt) but you will have our thanks.


We are also looking for any suggestions to make the race better, let us hear from you.



A behind the scenes look at what it takes to make it happen again… by Sigrid Pilgrim


For 60 years now, the Des Plaines River Canoe and Kayak Marathon in Illinois has attracted many hundreds of canoes and kayaks for the 18.5 mile stretch from Oak Springs Road in Libertyville to Dam #2 in Prospect Heights. Founded originally by Ralph Frese to introduce his boy scout troop to the beauty of the Des Plaines River, the event has become a “must participate” for many paddlers from all around the country, if for no other reason than to get the coveted embroidered patch or for the first place winners, the unique voyageur statue.


My husband Alan is co-chair of this event that happens only because a small, very dedicated group of volunteers for years has given many hours of their time to make sure no detail of the event is overlooked. As the sometimes willing sounding board, listening to Alan voice frustration about this, that, or the other aspect of the event that still hasn’t been nailed down, confirmed, reconfirmed, settled, or figured out, sometimes just a few days before race date, I sat down with him with pen and paper and asked him “Tell me, what does it take to put on the Marathon?”


So here is a summary of what it will take again to have nearly 800 paddlers participate in the 61th Annual Des Plaines Canoe and Kayak Marathon to be held May 20, 2018:


The Organizing Committee consisting of two co-chairs, secretary/treasurer, registrar, safety, start line coordinators, marketing and outreach members meet once a month to coordinate all that follows:


  • Contract with SignMeUp.com firm that takes care of electronic registration (which then requires umpteen emails sent by the co-chairs on alternating days to remind tandem paddlers that each needs to sign the waiver!)
  • Coordination with the Lake County Forest Preserve District (start line) for traffic control and parking, plus making sure the upper section of the river is clear of debris for the race
  • Confirmation with the Forest Preserve District of Cook County, the major sponsor, (finish line) to provide for traffic control, parking, shuttle buses, port-a-potties, entertainment and police, and also ensuring the lower section of the river is clear of debris for the race
  • Coordinating with Lake County for “sweep” paddlers from Start Line to Lake Cook Road, as well as providing a “sweep” paddler on the Cook County portion of the race from Lake Cook Road to the Finish line
  • Coordinating on course safety with 27 RACES, a communication team to be stationed on bridges to ensure safety of paddlers and pass on paddling times
  • Food vendors at end of race are researched and contracted for
  • Contracting with the official Timer
  • Arranging for the tents to shelter race headquarters for tracking race times, displays, t-shirt sales and any organization wanting to promote their activities
  • Renewing contracts for storage locker rental to house buoys, race result boards, water coolers, left-over t-shirts, and lots more no one has room for in a garage
  • Our design/artwork chair provides a unique design each year for the annual postcard, patch and t-shirt
  • Ordering patches, trophies, medals, t-shirts


And that is just the start, because without the actual people being part of it, none of that would be needed.  So here’s a list of tasks our volunteers annually give of their time and talent:


  • Event logo design for promo cards, t-shirts and patch by professional graphic designer (free)
  • Race registrar assigning start-times prior to race day
  • Saturday event set-up activities
  • Check-in registrars
  • Signage postings
  • Parking and shuttle coordinators
  • Buoy placers
  • Race starter
  • Info station staff
  • Safety boaters
  • Timers
  • Race time postings on timing boards
  • Patch, T-shirt distribution and sales
  • Webmaster
  • Mailing of trophies/medals/t-shirts not picked up on race day


And this is what your registration fees cover: Rental of storage locker, Supplies and Signage for Start and Finish Lines;  Website; RACES – Communication Group; Boat numbers; Trophies, Medals, Patches, T-shirts;  Printing and mailing of promo materials; Insurance; Volunteer lunches; Generator and Gas; Tents; T-shirts given to volunteers and other key personnel as a  “thank-you”; Port-a-Potties for the Start Line.


So that’s the summary of what it takes to put on the Des Plaines Canoe & Kayak Marathon; I may even have left out a few “needs to get done” too. I hope that all paddlers reading this will reward the many volunteers’ efforts by participating in next year’s event, May 20, 2018, to say


For more information on the event and a list of this year’s finish times, please go to



If you would like to become involved – we would love more volunteers.


By Sigrid Pilgrim


After being at flood stage barely a week before the race, the river dropped to less than 3 feet, making the former Ryerson Dam, rechristened the Ryerson Ripple a shallow hazard for any kayak or SUP with a fixed rudder or fin. So paddlers were urged to portage at a wide soft muddy flat! But rescue came thanks to volunteers who placed the red, gray and brown carpets, much appreciated by all who used them.

777 paddlers and passengers started the 18.5 mile or the 5.25 mile courses – both of which were threatened just 48 hours before by a major log jam across the whole river. Thanks to the combined effort of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Chicago, the Illinois Department of Transportation and expedited by the Forest Preserves of Cook County, the race was able to be held.

There are way too many volunteers to thank who are making this event possible. So I’d like to revert back to an article that I wrote a few years ago: What it takes to put on the Marathon

But when the wonderful comments from the participants come in, it’s all worth the effort.  Here are just a few that race organizers received.

  • After my 5am paddle of the course on race day to ensure that the previous evening’s storms had not downed a new tree, I was at the Ryerson portage all day until the last boats came through. Then we swept the stragglers through to the finish line, with one exhausted paddler saying “I’ll do it all over again” – Gareth Stevens.
  • Thank you for this great canoe race and thank you for the opportunity to be part of the many canoe and kayak participants.  It is big privilege for me to be competitor in one of the oldest canoe races in North America.  Please accept this small donation. Kiril Florov.
  • Hans and Fritz Zimmerman have the boat number equal to their number of years raced each year.  This year they were number 46.
  • Oldest racer was Ed Hahn at 83yrs 5 months (beat Don Mueggenborg by 5 months).
  • Youngest (did not actually paddle) was1. Several 7 year olds were registered as paddler number two.
  • A paddler named John has done the race 20 times and celebrated his 60th birthday by racing boat number 60 in the 60th annual running.
  • Several long time participants volunteered to help on race day.  Many work at the Start Line until the last few heats, when they get in their boats and run the river.
  • And one more comment: “If I had a bucket list – this event would be on it”.

And for the 61st Annual Des Plaines River Canoe & Kayak Marathon – May 20, 2018

The 2 Hour barrier has yet to be broken

For all race results go to www.canoemarathon.com


Illinois Recreational Access Program – IRAP

By Sigrid Pilgrim

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

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

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

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


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.”

IDNR WUS Renewal Letter

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

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

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

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


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

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

IDNR WUS Renewal Letter

IDNR WUS Renewal Letter Non resident water usage – special order

River is Up – Let’s Go! (No Don’t)

By Don Mueggenborg

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

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

Not a good idea.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Not Too Late to Register for the Des Plaines Canoe and Kayak (and SUP) Marathon

By Don Mueggenborg

“Ralphs” waiting for their recipients

One of the oldest and longest-running “races” in North America, and one of the largest, the Des Plaines River Marathon will be starting for the 60th year on May 21, 2017.

The “original” race course runs from Oak Spring Road in Libertyville to Dam # 2 Woods in Mt Prospect – just short of 20 miles if you paddle a straight line. There is a short “Minithon” that runs for about 5 miles and ends at the same place as the long course.

Some of the fastest and best paddlers in the Midwest race the course in pursuit of “Ralph,” the trophy shaped like a voyageur and nicknamed Ralph for Ralph Frese, founder or the Race. Watch them as they flash past you, admire their technique and fitness.

HOWEVER, with 22 classes, there is something for everyone. Some of the “average” paddlers will also come home with “Ralph.”

Most of us paddle:

  • Because we like to paddle and share the camaraderie with 600 other paddlers on the river and at the start and finish line
  • Because we want to beat our friend, neighbor, brother, or just anybody else
  • Because we want to prove that we can do it
  • Because it is a beautiful river with its tree-lined banks, and it is a good way to enjoy nature
  • Because we want to show off our neat t-shirts and tell stories of our adventures

This year the course will be DAM FREE for the first time in over 100 years.

Go to the NEW WEBSITE – canoemarathon.com to learn more about the race and enter on-line (or copy a paper registration).   (You can register at the start line on race day – either at the start of the long race or the minithon – but it will cost you more and you probably will not be able to get a tee-shirt)

SEE YOU ON THE RIVER OR AT THE FINISH LINE (eating one of those great sandwiches that our venders serve)