The Vermilion River is one of the best, if not the only, exciting whitewater rivers found in the state of Illinois. Unfortunately, last Spring Buzzi Unicem, which owns the cement plant on the river, closed the river to paddlers out of fear of liability.
The Illinois Paddling Council is reporting the following:
The Vermilion River Navigability Act which would solve the problem by declaring the closed portion to be navigable and therefore making it public and open. The bill has reached a crucial point and will have a hearing on Tuesday in the House Agriculture and Conservation Committee. It is critical that Committee members hear from large numbers of paddlers.
Click on this link to the Illinois Paddling Council to find the names and addresses of the representatives on the House of Agriculture and Conservation Committee. Send each member a succinct email stating that you support HB5296 and why.
I sent my email and my reason was that there are not that many outstanding natural resources in Illinois and the ones that we do have need to be open for our residents to enjoy. This is the problem with outdoor adventure in the state of Illinois. There are not enough great outdoor destinations and many of them are not open to the public.
This is why many outdoor enthusiasts head north to Wisconsin as they do a much better job of allowing access to their natural wonders than we do in Illinois. Too many lakes and rivers are barred from use as they lie on private property. The Apple River near Galena is another beautiful area that is off limits to canoeists due to private concerns. Think of all the tourist dollars Illinois loses due to this fact.
The Illinois Paddling Council provides a synopsis of bill HB5296.
Amends the Rivers, Lakes, and Streams Act. Provides that the Vermilion River, from its confluence with the Illinois River upstream to the bridge at 18th Street in LaSalle County, is declared a navigable stream, shall be deemed and held a public right-of-way, and shall remain free, open, and unobstructed, and all laws prohibiting the obstruction of navigable streams shall be deemed applicable to the Vermilion River between the points identified.
Send your email or call as the vote on this legislation is for tomorrow. Even if you read this article too late feel free to send an email or call anyway as any time is a good time to let Illinois legislators know that you are in favor of more public access to Illinois outdoor recreation areas.
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