I have been fortunate to live by and have access to the Kishwaukee River for the last 40 years. I enjoy and have a great respect for this wonderful river. The river provides everyone the opportunity to observe and enjoy all the natural resources and wildlife this river has to offer, along with canoeing, tubing, kayaking and fishing. I see families and groups going down the river enjoying, respecting, and doing their part in preserving the environment. However, they are the minority. The tubers are coming down the river in mass (July 3 there were 200-300 tubers that floated down the river that day alone). The majority of these people are abusing our river. Beer bottles are thrown into the river or onto private property continually. Cigarette butts are thrown into the river, turning it into one giant ashtray. The profanity is unbelievable. If the property owners along the river say anything to the offenders, it only makes the situation worse, especially since most of them are under the influence of alcohol and become belligerent. It is frightening to see how many children are floating down the river without any life jackets on. Many of them are floating on plastic pool-type floating devices that are not safe for river recreation. The Cherry Valley Park is full of trash from rafts, bottles, cans, even empty cases of beer. Alcohol is the norm, although it is not legal to have alcohol in the park. These same people are getting out of the river after their day of floating and drinking and getting into a car to drive away.
Where are the DNR, city or county officials? No one is responding to complaints. It seems to be a blame game among departments. Who is responsible? There are no signs posted. Fines should be imposed and enforced for litter, alcohol abuse, profanity and lewd behavior. Maybe then the abusers will think before destroying the river and ecology. Something needs to be done before a tragic accident occurs and before our river is destroyed for everyone.
From the July 21-27, 2010 issue