BFA reacts to proposal to close canal parkway

Saturday, August 30, 2008

By Craig Sterrett
News Editor - News Tribune

BFA reacts to proposal to close canal parkway
An angler fishes on the 90-mile-long Hennepin Canal this week, which the state government has proposed for closing.

NewsTribune photo/Kemp Smith


Saying he was “mad, sad and sickened” by the proposal to close the Hennepin Canal state parkway by the state of Illinois and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Tom Wall, Better Fishing Association of Northern Illinois president, on Friday announced the BFA is having an emergency meeting next week.He encourages attendance by anyone who is interested and opposed to the state’s proposed closing of the more than 90-mile-long Hennepin Canal State Parkway.

The meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday in La Salle at the veterans shelter near Lock 14.


''We're inviting anybody and everybody that's interested ... to try to prevent the closing of the Hennepin Canal," Wall said. ''This is similar to what we did 51 years ago to prevent the dewatering and abandonment of the canal. The (BFA) organization was formed then for that purpose. Now, 51 years later, some idiot that's shortsighted or doesn’t appreciate the value of this multipurpose recreational area is trying to shut it down for political gain. ...


"This was done by the IDNR without their even contacting our organization. This thing is a jewel. It's part of the Grand Illinois Trail. It's part of the national trail across the United States. It's a linear parkway for multipurpose usage, including fishing, hiking, bicycling, snowmobiling, horseback riding, bird-watching and camping.


"They're saying they're going to try (to keep people out after a November closing) by putting fences and gates across there. What they could do, if it was a Gestapo state, they could arrest people for trespassing. … To lose this would be a tremendous, tremendous loss. Obviously it was worth everything (spent over the' past 50 years) to rebuild it."


Wall said in recent months, layoffs have led to lack of maintenance, long grasses and weeds and then some "people quit using it because it's in dis­repair." He also worries that an animal burrow could go unno­ticed and cause breakage of the canal levees and cause the water to run out, and then the costs to repair would be astro­nomical in comparison to costs to maintain.


"It's criminal to let this thing go because of the worse damage that could happen to it. This is a sad, sad day," Wall said, adding he hopes canal users from throughout the region and townspeople from along the entire canal route will "wake up their political people to get them involved."