Guest Column: No Wake Zone: Under the radar on the Rock River

Once again, changes are being requested on the Rock River without public knowledge. On March 24, 2006, a request to make changes in the excessive No Wake Zone at Martin Park appeared in the Illinois Register (page 5,492). The requested change states: “The portion of the Rock River at Martin Park in Loves Park from 200 feet upstream of the boat launches to 200 feet downstream of the boat launches, and for 150 feet from the Martin Park Shoreline from 200 feet downstream of the boat launches to 400 feet downstream of the boat launches.”

After all the commotion this issue created last summer, you would think an open forum would have been provided. According to legal papers filed in the Illinois Register, this amended No Wake Zone is the brain child of “DNR Law Enforcement, Sheriff of Winnebago County, the Rockford Police Department and the Rockford Park District Police Department.” They also claim to have met with members of the group who oppose the No Wake Zone. I was never contacted and can find no public announcement of any meetings, although the legal filing clearly states these meetings were held.

Safety was the justification of the original No Wake Zone, which extends 2,534 feet in length, from shore line to shore line. The proposed change is now only 400 feet long, bank to bank. Are we now to believe the river is 84 percent safer? What event caused the proposed reduction of 2,134 feet? Is a 400-foot long No Wake Zone like setting up a small roadblock to check people for their driver’s license, insurance card and to see if they have been drinking? Are they trying to keep people happy on the west side of the river who routinely complain about noisy boats? Is the proposed grand reduction an election year issue?

Now that the safety issue appears to be water under the bridge, let’s look at the impact of the No Wake Zone on the community. Last year, our community lost two marinas and countless dollars in fuel, snacks, beverages and all the leisure-time items boaters purchase. In paragraph 12 of the new proposal, it states: “However, small businesses such as marinas could be affected if boating on the bodies of water they serve is restricted. Additionally, small municipalities located along bodies of water where boating is restricted under this regulation would be affected in that their populations would be restricted in their boating activities. “Restricted in their boating activities” is a very clever way of letting the community know that expendable leisure-time cash will be taken out of the area.

We may never know the truth behind the No Wake Zone (or who shot JFK). If you would like to help return boating freedom to the Rock River, now is the time to act. Letters received before May 8, 2006, will be included with the new proposal when it goes to JCAR for final approval. To request the river be returned to its normal state, with a 150 No Wake Zone arc around the Martin Park docks, send a letter requesting that to:

Jack Price, Legal Counsel Department of Natural Resources One Natural Resources Way Springfield, IL 62702-1271

For more information, visit It’s time the river is returned to the boaters.

from the April 12-18, 2006, issue

Enjoy The Rock River Times? Help spread the word!