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IDNR Strikes Deal To Re-Open Vermilion

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A settlement between the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and an Oglesby mining company to reopen a closed section of the Vermilion River is a "done deal," according to State Rep. Frank Mautino, D-Spring Valley.


Late Friday, Mautino told The Times a "long-term lease agreement" between the Buzzi Unicem mining company and the IDNR has been finalized.


Although no exact date for the opening came with the announcement, Mautino said he expects the entire river to be opened for most of the warm-weather season.


"The last issue was the type of buoys and their locations on the river section outside Oglesby," Mautino said.


Engineers from the IDNR and Buzzi have been negotiating that issue for weeks.The buoys would guide boaters away from danger areas during Vermilion high-water periods.


Buzzi Unicem owns a section of the Vermilion River which flows through its rural Oglesby property. Last July, the company closed its portion — a popular stretch for canoeists and rafters —to public use after a drowning and other publicized accidents occurred on the rapids near a "low head" dam area.


Oglesby Mayor Tony Torres has long said there are ways of creating a series of physical repairs to the danger area that would remove the hydraulic hazard from the dam section. Mautino said such construction is now set to be completed before the section is reopened.


"I was told by IDNR Director Mark Miller the money is there. We shouldn't have to wait too long for the work to begin," Mautino said.


Following public outcry last summer, Mautino introduced a bill in the General Assembly in February that would make the Vermilion public from the Sandy Ford Bridge, several miles northwest of Streator, to its mouth at the Illinois near Jonesville.


The recent agreement makes that legislation unnecessary.


Rafting on the Vermilion is popular within La Salle County area because the river from Lowell to Oglesbyoffers the only real whitewater experience in northern Illinois.

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I agree. The legislation probably would have led to other river beeing deemed navigatable.

What if the cement mill is sold again? Will we need a new deal? Maybe some further letters to Rep. Mautino are in order. It seems like the bill would be a better solution, though it may bring some concerns of landowners forward.Concerns such as visible high water mark and what is considered trespass will surely need to be dealt with.

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Exellent point, if the property is sold again, and again, a new "agreement" would have to be made, and the river could be closed once more untill the details are worked out. With legislation its done once and all the issues from all partys are brought up for consideration and settled.

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