Public Access to the DuPage River – All of it! – Now Endangered
Some of my favorite paddling memories are the beginner’s trips that the Chicago Whitewater Association held on the DuPage River in mid-to-late March, which meant “Paddling Season is here!” However, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) maintains a list of “public waters” which does not include the DuPage River. This means the public does not have a right to paddle on those portions of the river that are not held by public entities, like Forest Preserve Districts and Municipalities. Yet, for decades, the river was used for paddling and other recreational activities without objection.
Two books include descriptions of river trips – Mike Svob’s Paddling Illinois and Bob Tyler’s Canoeing Adventures in Northern Illinois. The latter having been used extensively by the DNR, according to Bob without, objection to having the DuPage listed. Even though it isn’t “public waters.”
Paddlesport, like other outdoor activities, has seen a tremendous increase in popularity due to the pandemic. So last year, a business opened in Plainfield on the DuPage River, allowing people to enjoy the river for three miles on inner tubes. Unfortunately, there are always a few who feel that they can throw their beer cans and bottles on private landowner’s property, as well as trespass.
The river frontage landowner is understandably upset. As a result, the landowner is trying to get the IDNR to declare the DuPage River closed to the public under Illinois’ public water law.
Several area municipalities as well as legislators have been asking the IDNR to not close the river. Rather, to declare it a Public Water since there are already many public boat launches, including a new one recently built in Lisle.
If you are an Illinois Resident, please contact your local legislator and ask them to tell the IDNR not to close the river. You can find your House and Senate legislators by entering your address here:
Here, too, is a link to the DuPage River Water Trail, the map that has been extensively distributed for more than a decade without objection.