Pecatonica River Water Trail gains national recognition

Staff Report

PECATONICA, Ill. — The Pecatonica River Water Trail in Pecatonica, Ill., has been recognized by U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar as one of 11 model river projects serving as examples of conservation and restoration, expansion of outdoor recreational opportunities and support of jobs in local communities.

The 11 river projects are part of a list of 51 ongoing projects Salazar is highlighting nationwide, one in each state and the District of Columbia, as models of America’s Great Outdoors Rivers.

Ranging from the restoration of the Milwaukee River in Wisconsin to the establishment of the Pascagoula River Blueway in Mississippi, the projects were selected to provide examples for how communities across America can restore and reconnect with the rivers in their back yards.

Across the country, we are working hand in hand with states, tribes, local communities and other partners to revitalize our nation’s rivers and expand the opportunities for people to fish, swim, boat and otherwise connect with the great outdoors,” Salazar said. “These ongoing projects demonstrate how the federal family can be an effective conservation partner for community-led efforts to improve our rivers, which are the lifeblood of our communities and our economies.”

A map and more detailed descriptions of the river initiatives highlighted by Salazar can be accessed at

Following, by state, are the America’s Great Outdoors Rivers identified by Salazar:

Arkansas: Cache River — Cache River Restoration

Illinois: Pecatonica River — Pecatonica River Water Trail: In response to the increased need for recreational opportunities, the National Park Service is working with federal, state and local agencies, non-governmental organizations, and volunteer groups to expand recreational access and restore wetland and riparian habitat, including the construction of two fishing docks and restoring 1 acre of wetland, along 58 miles of the Pecatonica River.

Indiana: Wabash River — Healthy Rivers Initiative

Iowa: Big Sioux River — Klondike Dam Fish Passage Project

Louisiana: Tensas River — Tensas River National Wildlife Refuge Paddling Trail

Michigan: Detroit River — Detroit River Urban Park and Restoration

Minnesota: Minnesota and Mississippi rivers — Mississippi National River and Recreational Area National Water Trail

Mississippi: Pascagoula River — Pascagoula River Water Trail

Missouri: Mississippi and Missouri Rivers — Mississippi and Missouri Rivers Confluence

Ohio: Chagrin River — Sulphur Springs Assessment and Restoration Project

Wisconsin: Milwaukee River — Restoring Connectivity in the Milwaukee River Watershed

America has more than 3.6 million miles of rivers and streams, and nearly every American lives within a mile of a river or stream, making them some of the nation’s most important recreational and ecological assets,” Salazar added. “America’s Great Outdoors Rivers will help fulfill President Obama’s vision for healthy and accessible rivers as we work to restore and conserve our nation’s treasured waterways.”

Rivers are economic engines for many local communities, supporting recreation and tourism industries by providing opportunities for boating, fishing and hunting, hiking, camping, swimming, and numerous other outdoor activities.

Salazar noted that the outdoor industry creates an estimated 6.5 million jobs in the United States and pumps an estimated $730 billion a year into our nation’s economy.

The Rock River Trail Initiative is working on establishing and interpreting a Rock River Water Trail along the 300-mile river course from the headwaters in Fond du Lac and Dodge counties, Wisconsin, to the Mississippi River at Rock Island, Illinois. The initiative is also working on a separate Rock River Route on roads within the river corridor to provide access for all to the natural resources, recreational opportunities, scenic beauty and historic and cultural assets of the Rock River Valley. Visit for more details.

Salazar unveiled America’s Great Outdoors Rivers in January as part of President Barack Obama’s overall America’s Great Outdoors Initiative to work with communities across the country to establish a conservation and recreation agenda for the 21st century and to reconnect people, especially young people, to the great outdoors.

The goals of America’s Great Outdoors Rivers include protecting and restoring America’s rivers for people and wildlife and enhancing river recreation that supports jobs in tourism and outdoor recreation.

Under the initiative, Salazar issued a Secretarial Order in February establishing a National Water Trails System, creating a network of designated water trails on rivers across the country that will help facilitate outdoor recreation, especially around urban areas, and provide national recognition to existing, local water trails. He designated the Chattahoochee River Water Trail, which encompasses 48 miles of river within the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area in Georgia, as the first National Water Trail.

In March, Salazar, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and Secretary of Commerce John Bryson signed a memorandum of understanding implementing the National Fish Habitat Action Plan to assist state and local governments, landowners and community groups in protecting and restoring waterways and fisheries.

Following is the full description of the Pecatonica River Water Trail project:

Project name: Pecatonica River Water Trail

Project type:


Restoration (Wetland and Riparian)

Recreation (Boat Access)

Project description: The Pecatonica River has had a significant increase in recreational use over the last three years. The Pecatonica River Water Trail project consists of volunteers who have dedicated themselves to revitalizing their region by providing recreational access along 58 miles of the river in Stephenson County, Illinois.

Their hard work includes clearing obstructions in the river, sponsoring river clean-ups, holding paddling events, and promoting “universal access” design. The goal is to ensure the waterway is open to all people, skills and talents, to have launch sites 4 to 6 miles apart, and to provide amenities such as restroom facilities and drinking water and parking at each site. There are currently eight defined access sites along the river, which the group is working to create or improve.

Lead federal agencies:

National Park Service

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Non-federal partners:

Friends of the Pecatonica River Foundation

Stephenson County Board

Fehr-Graham Associates, Inc.

Lena Community Park District

Ducks Unlimited

Pheasants Forever

Outcomes for 2012:

Complete a river access site at Atten’s Landing, which includes two fishing docks and a floating dock.

Restore 1 acre of wetland and riparian habitat.

From the Aug. 8-14, 2012, issue

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