A new history–The Rock River Trail

By Frank Schier
Editor & Publisher
Chairman & Founder of the Rock River Trail

April 16 and 17 at Best Western Clock Tower Resort in Rockford, Ill., enjoy the phenomenon of a new era of history being made on the Rock River for the states of Illinois and Wisconsin. Anyone can join us at no cost!

Meet your neighbors from 10 counties and many of the 33 cities up and down the river. The response and the excitement about the concept has been very gratifying.

Yes, the Rock River Trail already exists; it just has never been declared because an inventory has never been taken and maps haven’t been made.  Now, history’s changing.

Information has been flowing in, and each county will make a presentation about public and private campsites on the shores of the Rock River, along with parks, hiking and biking trails, dam portages, outfitters, marinas, American Indian cultural sites, hotels, B&Bs and many other local attractions. Those who attend will get to travel the entire river in just one morning!

The Rockford Park District (RPD) and the Winnebago County Forest Preserve have delineated and started on at least 20 new campsites on the Rock River in less than two weeks! Government can move fast!

The city, county and RPD have generously committed their shares in the county mapping system, Winnebago Geographic Information System (WinGIS), to create a brand-new map of the Rock River. Such a map is really a historical achievement, and its unveiling is a historic event.

WinGIS Director Burnie Turner and his staff have produced a miracle job in an extremely short time! And they will continue to update the maps as more information comes in—this city, county and its WinGIS partners are on the cutting edge!

Join us in creating the Rock River Trail, so our visitors and citizens can enjoy the many benefits of hiking it, biking it, kayaking it and canoeing it—the Rock River—our greatest local natural resource and a new business network for affordable, local eco-tourism in these tough economic times, right in our own back yards.

Schedule for “Getting to Know Ourselves, Re-Discovering the Rock River: An exploration, inventory, assessment and declaration of the Rock River Trail.” April 16 & 17, 2010, at The Best Western Clock Tower Resort & CoCo Key Water Resort, 7801 E. State St., Rockford, Illinois

Friday, April 16—9 a.m. The Rock River Times Editor & Publisher Frank Schier and Native American Awareness Committee (NAAC), Mac “Spotted Horse” MacVenn, welcome. Welcome and winner of Rock River Trail logo presented by Rockford Mayor Lawrence Morrissey. The deadline for submissions is Thursday, noon, April 14. Entries may be sent to rockrivertrail@rockrivertimes.com. However, this deadline may be extended by a vote of those who attend the conference. Want to vote? Attend the conference! Rockford Park District Presentation of New Campsites on the Kishwaukee and Rock rivers.

9:30 a.m. Yes, anybody can help create the trail. E-mail sign-up and committee sign-up for: 1. Mapping and signage. 2. Portaging dams and low-water areas. 3. Hiking and biking routes. 4. Water quality Monitoring. 5. Buffer zoning, Conservation Design and Clean Water Act advocacy. 6. Stream channels and wetlands preservation and restoration. 7. Grants, festival and eco-tourism marketing. 8. Rock River Sweep clean-up July 31, 2010.

9:40 a.m. Fond du Lac County—9:50 a.m. Dodge County—10 a.m. Jefferson County—10:10 a.m. Rock County—10:20 a.m. Winnebago County—10:30 a.m. Ogle County—10:40 a.m. Whiteside County—10:50 a.m. Lee County—11 a.m. Henry County—11:10 a.m. Rock Island County.

11:20 a.m. A presentation of The Rock River Sweep clean-up of the entire Rock River slated for July 31, 2010.

11:30 a.m. IREA’s Drs. Bob and Sonia Vogl discuss how we can support the Clean Water Act and set up a system of pollution monitors on the Rock River, rated the most polluted major river in Illinois.

11:40 a.m. A discussion of returning smaller tributaries and the larger streams to their original state, restoring and expanding wetlands, preservation of farmland and wetlands, flood prevention, agricultural easements and strong Conservation Design ordinances on the local and county levels along the entire Rock River.

11:50 a.m. High school science class/professional design competition for most powerful micro-hydro, shore-station generators and storage systems to be awarded at the Winnebago County Green Business awards at the Rockford Park District’s Webbs Norman Center, 401 S. Main St., Oct 7, 3:30 p.m.

Noon–1 p.m. Lunch

1 p.m. Rock River Micro-hydro Generator Design contest presented by Winnebago County Board Chairman Scott Christiansen. Winnebago County Forest Preserve presentation of new campsites on the Rock River. Eigerlab of Rockford will participate with the design submissions process and judging.

1:30-4:30 p.m. Rich Brooks, outreach program manager for Professional Development & Applied Studies at UW-Madison, will present a workshop on: “Supporting Local Business and a Sustainable Quality of Life.” These days, building local and regional “living economy” involves more than merely attracting new employers. Locally-owned businesses provide the majority of jobs, products and services, support the activities that enhance our quality of life and make the Rock River area unique.  This workshop will offer practical strategies for businesses to “walk the talk” of people, planet and profit: tools to reduce energy use (and bills!), offer healthy choices to employees and customers, manage waste and much more. Forming local and regional alliances can make all the difference. Start here. Come here. Celebrate our unique sense of place by integrating Green practices. How can we capitalize on our natural assets while revitalizing the local economy? NAAC Blessing.

4:30-5:30 p.m. Social Hour in Sun Dial Restaurant.

Saturday, April 17— 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. After a welcome from Marcia Heuer of the Oregon Chamber of Commerce, and Amy Trimble from Oregon Trail Days Festival, weather- and water-permitting, we’ll canoe the Rock River from Oregon to Grand Detour. NAAC Blessing. Start below Oregon’s dam, at T.J.’s Bait/Tackle and Canoe Rentals (305 S. First St., Oregon, IL, 61061, 815-732-4516, www.tjscanoerental.com) and paddle to scenic Castle Rock State Park (1.5 hours, $35), or to Grand Detour, the home of John Deere (3 to 4 hours, $50) kayaks, canoes, paddles and life preservers provided, or bring your own kayak or canoe and transportation! If their schedules permit, Oregon Mayor Thomas Stone and Ogle County Chairman Ed Rice may also speak. May be canceled because of extreme weather or river conditions. Rain site CoCo Key Water Resort. For reservations and inquiries about both days’ events, send an e-mail to rockrivertrail@rockrivertimes.com. Deadline April 15.

Saturday, April 17—3 to 4 p.m. Open discussion and wrap-up at Clock Tower Resort in Sun Dial Restaurant. NAAC Blessing.

Saturday, April 17—4 to 5 p.m. Social hour at Clock Tower Resort in Sun Dial Restaurant.

Room reservations at: The Best Western Clock Tower Resort & CoCo Key Water Resort, 7801 E. State St., Rockford, IL 61108, (815) 398-6000; Toll Free: 1-800-358-7666; e-mail: dwight.hopfauf@clocktowerresort.com. Deadline at noon, April 14.

For more information, go to www.rockrivertrail.com, and watch for updates in the coming months! Another conference will be scheduled for this fall in the open discussion sessions.

From the April 14-20, 2010 issue

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