Home Correction letter Letter to the Editor: Open Illinois Rivers and Waterways

Letter to the Editor: Open Illinois Rivers and Waterways


I recently read a nice blog on the WBEZ site by Zachary Nauth about the pleasures of paddlesport.

As an avid tandem and solo canoe, whitewater and sea kayak paddler, I can only endorse what the author writes about the pleasures and beauty that a few hours on a local river can bring. I also know that paddlers – once exposed to this environment – become very strong supporters of environmental protection..

Kayaking on the river. Credit: Filip Mroz on Unsplash

We can’t protect what was not loved…..and we can’t love what we don’t know!

As nice as the article is. I would like to add a correction to the caption of the photo mentioning over 87,000 miles of rivers in Illinois and although this is about the roundtable and not WBEZ, I wanted my neighbors in Evanston to know also all this.

While it’s true that there are over 87,000 miles of rivers in Illinois, only a very small percentage of those river miles are accessible to paddlers or the general public wanting to recreate in canoes or kayaks.

The reason for this is Illinois’ old water access law, which defined a publicly accessible river as a designated river centuries ago, documenting the use of the waterway for the trade at that time. You can read more here.

I’m sad to say that the vast majority of our state’s rivers are NOT accessible to Illinois paddlers, as confirmed in last month’s decision by the Illinois Supreme Court, where the court found sided with landowners, claiming they can block waterways to paddlers and fishing. passionate.

Yet…there is a silver lining as one of the judges also said it was time to amend Illinois’ outdated access law to include recreational uses as a valid activity on a river. We have thousands of reasons to change this law – 87,000 of them in fact.

Sigrid Pilgrim