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The Vermilion River Needs Our Help!


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Last Spring Buzzi Unicem, owner of the cement plant on the Vermilion River (one of the most paddled and best whitewater runs in Illinois), closed the river to paddlers out of fear of liability. State Representative Frank Mautino recently Introduced HB 5296 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.

 

Only emails or phone calls will make it in time. Emails should be short and to the point, such as "I am in favor of HB5296" . . . and give your reason for your support. Urge the Representative to pass this bill through committee. We should all contact all the committee members on or before Monday February 22, 2010, and reiterate this message. Anyone willing to travel to Springfield to give testimony in front of the committee should file a witness slip prior to the hearing if they want to be recognized.

 

A Synopsis of 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.

 

Attached is a roster of Legislator's Contact Information.

 

Please help us once again to show the power of a unified paddling community.

 

Tom Lindblade

President

The Illinois Paddling Council (IPC)

2138 Clinton St,

Rockford, IL 61103

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This issue was addressed at the Illinois River Coordinating Council meeting last Wednesday. From my notes, it was stated that Lonestar was negotiating with the IDNR on the issue and as long as that continued the state rep was not going to move forward on the bill.

 

Some things in the ongoing discussion was a possible lease with Lonestar. The IDNR would pay a nominal fee and there would be limits to the liability of the landowner. This would come under Illinois Statute 745 Section 67. Design and installtion to address safety concerns for both short and long term. A management plan for safety with access in mind.

 

A group known as the Better Fishing Association of Northern Illinois has filed a petition to designate the Vermilion River a Public Navigable River. This was filed by the group and jointly as citizens of the state under authority of 615 ILCS 5/8.

 

Some interesting items from the petition:

From Il Adm. Code 17 section 3704.20- Definitions

"Private Waters- waters of the State of Illinois that are wholly upon properties held in private ownership and contained on the land of the owner.

Public Waters- all other waters of the State of Illinois."

 

It is thier interpretation that since the river" is not wholly on the property of any one owner or contained on the property of any one owner but merely flows over or past it, that it should be classified

as a public water under the standards and definition of the IDNR itself." If that interpretation is correct it is my belief that every creek, stream or river in the State of Illinois is Public Water and should be treated as such.

 

They also have examples of Illinois and US Supreme Court rulings that support thier position.

 

I obviously have a copy of the document and will make copies if you let me know you want one. I'll give it to you at the Blowout if you are there or PM your mailing addy.

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Lonestar does not own the property anymore.

Probably makes no difference who owns the plant, if we get legislation that declares it navigable waters, does it? If the landowner wants some indemnity, whoever they are will want it.

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If we get legislation that declares it navigable waters, and there are land owners that have deeds to any parts of those waters, those land owners will declare that the state will have to provide compensation for taking their property.

 

In other states, similar court cases decided that no compensation was due to the land owners because they said that the owners deeds to the waters were never valid because of the Supreme court decision that waters of the state have always belonged to the state and could not be bought or sold.

 

I'm sure the land owners will be taking the state to court over the issue. We'll have to see how that works out.

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A friend of mine who is a lobbyist thought there was also legislation proposed dealing with the Vermilion R. over by Danville. Anyone know if that's true? That's another nice place for smallmouth fishing, but I don't know exactly what part they may be talking about.

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A friend of mine who is a lobbyist thought there was also legislation proposed dealing with the Vermilion R. over by Danville. Anyone know if that's true? That's another nice place for smallmouth fishing, but I don't know exactly what part they may be talking about.

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i am in danville and have not heard of it tho i do wish someone would start paying attention to the river over here. there have been alot of streambed alterations made for private intrests as well as cover and habitat cut away from banks to aid recreational canoeing, also by private individuals for personal finacial intrests.

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A friend of mine who is a lobbyist thought there was also legislation proposed dealing with the Vermilion R. over by Danville. That's another nice place for smallmouth fishing

 

Absolutely not true, this river only contains carp and other assorted "trash fish" It's the other northern Vermilion River with all the smallmouth. Trust me! :rolleyes:

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Absolutely not true, this river only contains carp and other assorted "trash fish" It's the other northern Vermilion River with all the smallmouth. Trust me! :rolleyes:

Oh, I understand the carp and trash fish aspect. I only meant it's pleasant surroundings and a nice place to TRY to fish for smallmouth, I never have any luck over there. It's the DuPage, Fox and Apple rivers and the shores of Lake Michigan that have all the smallies. Ever since JimJ brought that bus load of rowdies down to fish the place has been nothing but a wet place to walk.

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Absolutely not true, this river only contains carp and other assorted "trash fish" It's the other northern Vermilion River with all the smallmouth. Trust me!

 

I know what you mean..there aren't any smallmouth in my river either. It's the North Branch of the Dupage that holds them. My area is carp water too.

 

That busload down there was really successful. I think we totaled 300-400 smallies that day and I know for fact that many many Chicago guys have made that trip time and time again over the last few years.

 

Man, we really cleaned up.

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A friend of mine who is a lobbyist thought there was also legislation proposed dealing with the Vermilion R. over by Danville. Anyone know if that's true? That's another nice place for smallmouth fishing, but I don't know exactly what part they may be talking about.

 

The downstate Vermillion is already listed as a public waterway "to West Line, T19N, R11W, 2nd PM in Vermilion County, which is located approximately one mile upstream from the junction with the North Fork." The Middle Fork is covered by its Wild and Scenic designation. I think that pretty much leaves the Salt Fork. Sure would be nice to have that branch listed as public, too. For the carp fishing, of course :D

 

-SB

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You can petition the IDNR to make it public, that's what the folks on the other Vermilion are doing.

 

Oh, I've been chewing on that idea for quite a while now. I know a lot of folks who paddle and fish the Salt Fork who are content for the time being because most of the area landowners don't raise much fuss about people using the river. But I suspect that'll turn into a fight at some point down the road, as more and more people discover and start to use that branch.

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