From the Illinois Paddling Council
The current Illinois Water Usage Stamp (WUS) requirements oblige any out-of-state, visiting paddler to purchase this stamp to paddle on Illinois waterways. Organizers of paddling events, such as the Des Plaines River Canoe and Kayak Marathon, have expressed concern that this difficult and onerous requirement may be a barrier to participation.
Legislation has now been introduced that will automatically exempt event participants from out-of-state from the WUS requirement. H.B. 0227 has been reintroduced by state Rep. Laura Fine as an amendment to the original legislation. She suggests that paddlers and interested parties contact their state legislators — both House and Senate — and urge them to support and vote yes on this amendment. You can ID your elected legislators at http://openstates.org/find_your_legislator/; enter your address, and there they are, complete with contact info.
As a further consideration, note that many states have recognized that exempting visiting paddlers from their licensing requirements is simply a good economic move — the tourism and hospitality industries benefit directly and many providers of goods and services benefit indirectly. You may want to expand on this simple lesson in economics when you contact your legislators. Here a few talking points:
• The current WUS requirements may reduce participation by out-of-state visitors on some of the most prestigious and well-attended events in Illinois (e.g., the Des Plaines River Canoe and Kayak Marathon).
• The procedure for acquiring the WUS is complicated and time-consuming, and visitors may either forego paddling activities or won’t come to Illinois for recreation at all.
• The economic benefits of exempting not only event participants but all paddlers visiting Illinois far outweigh the net financial gain from the sale of WUS.
Contact your legislators ASAP.
From the Jan. 28-Feb. 3, 2015, issue