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Looking Upriver: Following up on Stories from our last Newsletter

by Scott Hays

In early March, several of us staffed an IPC display booth at Madison’s Canoecopia – the largest retail show and conference devoted to paddlesports in the nation. We hosted near-continuous traffic of people interested in learning about paddling in Illinois and several that already do. Our lowhead dam simulator, which convincingly demonstrates the hazards of these dangerous features of too many Illinois rivers, was a consistent crowd draw. We enjoyed connecting with friends old and new including Chicago Adventure Therapy, Urban Rivers, Will Collins the “Buffalo Roamer”,  River Action (sponsor of “Floatzilla”), the Coast Guard Auxiliary, not to mention our friends at the Prairie State Canoeists and the St. Charles Paddling Club and others too numerous to name. We all had a great time! Join us next year! 

On the legislative side, our “water rights” bill, HB 1568 is washed up for the 2023 General Assembly Legislative Session. Significant opposition with highly misleading messaging coupled with an insufficient showing of strong and unified support from the paddling community combined to sink this effort for this year. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources continues to be oddly unsupportive of an initiative that actually supports their mission. The Illinois Farm Bureau is opposed despite the fact that this bill impacts agriculture and farming operations minimally, if at all. Stay tuned for details on an all-out organizational and educational effort to pass this bill in 2024! 

By far, the most frequent question we get is “where can I paddle in Illinois?” We’ve now gone live with what we hope will be the most comprehensive and interactive statewide paddler’s map of Illinois waterways. Now available on our website HERE, this map remains a work in progress and will require “crowdsourcing” to be as good as it can be. Take a look, zoom around and if your river isn’t here, let us know with as much information you may have about launch sites, blockages, points of interest, shuttle services and anything else of interest. Contact James about adding to our map.

Finally, please be aware that everything we do (including maintaining our website, newsletter and tabling at events such as Canoecopia) is made possible by your generous donation and your annual membership in the Illinois Paddling Council. We ask that you consider helping us out with your support today by donating HERE.