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."