MCTG provides public comment on City of Springfield’s amended Supplemental Water Supply Project

On July 1, 2021 the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued a Public Notice addressing the City of Springfield’s amended Supplemental Water Supply Project. MCTG submitted the following public comment letter.

The project’s initial proposal was to build Hunter Lake Reservoir to the southeast of Springfield Lake as an auxiliary water supply. Springfield subsequently requested an additional Purpose & Need of the project to include Aquatic Recreation. Per National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) requirements a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) is being prepared to address the addition of Purpose and Need of Aquatic Resources. Under NEPA, the SEIS must evaluate all appropriate and reasonable alternatives, including, among other things, “Use of other existing surface water reservoirs for water supply and aquatic recreation opportunities.”

When considering existing aquatic recreation opportunities, the Sangamon River should be included as an appropriate and reasonable alternative to provide aquatic recreation in central Illinois.

August 4, 2021

Regulatory Division – Mr. James Kelley
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Rock Island District
Clock Tower Building
PO Box 2004
Rock Island, IL 61204-2004
 
Re: CWLP – City of Springfield
CEMVR-OD-P-2016-0095

Dear Mr. Kelly:
Menard County Trails & Greenways (MCTG) is responding to the public notice regarding the proposed Hunter Lake and the project specified above. MCTG is a non-profit organization in central Illinois that promotes the development and use of a network of land and water trails, such as the Sangamon River, for recreational purposes. 

MCTG supports the improvement of existing resources, including the Sangamon River, for local residents to participate in outdoor aquatic activities. Designated in part as the Lincoln Heritage Canoe Trail by former Governor Otto Kerner in 1965, the Sangamon is a rich historical and cultural asset to the communities in central IL. Despite its designation as the state’s first water trail, public access to the river – and its use – remains limited. Between Decatur and Oakford, IL, an approximate 100+ mile reach of river, only a handful of public access points exist. Compounding poor access are a number of unsafe low-head dams that impede recreation.
 
People want to be on the Sangamon River, evidenced by well-attended events that MCTG and other local organizations have held over the years, with permission from private landowners to access the river. MCTG hosts an annual fall paddle on the Sangamon and prior to this, the Lincoln Heritage Water Trail Association hosted an annual canoe/kayak race that drew participants from across the state. Improved and new public access points along the stretch of Sangamon that flows within the 50-mile radius anticipated to draw users to the proposed Hunter Lake would facilitate additional recreating on the Sangamon River, whether through organized events or private paddling. Enhanced public access, adequately funded and supported, would also facilitate wider appreciation of the river, thereby encouraging the conservation and sustainability of this historic river for the recreational enjoyment of generations to follow.
 
Jennifer Satorius
Vice President, Menard County Trails & Greenways

MCTG Comments on State Water Plan

kayaking on sangamon river

Last month we posted Public Access to Illinois Waterways, that the Illinois Department of Natural Resources was working on the development of a revised State Water Plan, and announced the opportunity for the public to review the recommendations and provide feedback.

Menard County Trails & Greenways provided the following comments. (see below). Public feedback will be used to further develop a State Water Plan Draft Report, and public outreach meetings will be held in November 2021 to allow input to the report. We’ll keep you posted.

Dear Illinois State Water Plan Task Force,

Thank you for the opportunity to provide input on the revised water plan for the State of Illinois. To this end, Menard County Trails and Greenways (MCTG) submits the following key priorities for consideration by the Illinois State Water Plan Task Force. MCTG is a nonprofit organization in central Illinois that promotes the development and use of a network of land and water trails that connect people to natural and cultural resources, encourages recreation, and advances the conservation of the county’s unique natural and cultural resources for the benefit of all. One important water source that our group works to protect is the Sangamon River, which flows through Menard County.

Key water plan priorities:

    • Water quality: Strengthen efforts to reduce runoff of pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers and road salt, which may cause significant environmental damage when found in rivers and lakes; enforce anti-littering laws.
    • Access to waterways: Support and promote the use of rivers by non consumptive and low-impact craft such as canoes, kayaks, and stand up paddleboards. There are many not-for-profit organizations in our state that are working on creating water trails, which by definition, require access/egress points within reasonable distances for paddlers to launch and exit. Such sites do not need much infrastructure, but most importantly, permission to access the waterway.
    • Low-head dam removal: Fund low-head dam removal projects to eliminate “drowning machines” and improve the free flow of rivers, fish habitat and connected ecosystems, as well as recreational opportunities for individuals using the river to fish, paddle, boat, or simply enjoy nature.

Thank you again for the opportunity to provide input on the revised water plan. Please reach out with any questions. We look forward to learning more about the final water plan.

Jennifer Satorius
Vice President, Menard County Trails & Greenways

Public access to Illinois waterways

Illinois Department of Natural Resources working on the development of a revised State Water Plan.  The public is invited to review the recommendations by the Task Force of each critical issue and provide feedback to ensure that the project is addressing everybody’s most important water-related needs in IL. Virtual public hearings (identical) were held May 25-27 by IDNR at

https://www2.illinois.gov/dnr/WaterResources/Pages/StateWaterPlanTaskForce.aspx

Prior to the Live Meetings, DNR suggest that you listen to the Recorded Summary to obtain a brief overview about each of the 13 identified critical issues. The presentation has been provided in both a video or slideshow format to allow viewing options.

Recorded Summary Video Link:  View  Download

Recorded Summary Slideshow Link:  Link

 

Eric Freyfogle, Research Professor of Law, Swanlund Chair Emeritus, University of Illinois College of Law at Champaign, IL has offered his public comments for viewing. Download his comments here.

You can use the following public survey links to provide comments and input into the State Water Plan development. Public comments can be submitted through June 18, 2021 using the survey platform or by sending comments or survey responses to the email address below. 

Public Survey: link

Email link for any comments:  dnr.owrplanning@illinois.gov

2020 Sangamon River Fall Float

The Annual Sangamon River Fall Float was a little different this year. Due to Covid concerns the trip was completely DIY. All 23 participants provided their own shuttles between the launch and take-out sites, brought their own refreshments, including food and beverages for the after-float campfire. It was a picture-perfect day and fun time for all.

2020 Fall float

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