Environmental Defenders of McHenry County

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It's Our River Day Celebration 2008

On Saturday, September 20, over 100 folks from Woodstock to Hoffman Estates, including nearly 40 young people, gathered at the Fox River as part of the state-wide “It’s Our River Day” celebration.  With rain falling heavily the weekend before, several celebrations around the state were canceled, unfortunately.  In Algonquin, however, the day was a great success, thanks to the support of numerous people and organizations.  The location of Cornish Park at the confluence of the Fox River and Crystal Creek was the perfect place to celebrate.   

The purpose of It’s Our River Day, started several years ago by Lt. Governor Pat Quinn, is to honor and preserve the rivers of Illinois.  Here in Algonquin, the Environmental Defenders of McHenry County and the Village of Algonquin came together to co-sponsor a celebration of the Fox.  The day’s events included talks by several speakers, including Congressman Don Manzullo, Olivia Dorothy from the Lt. Governor’s office, Brian Dianis, Village of Algonquin Trustee, Katie Parkhurst with the Village of Algonquin, Cindy Skrukrud of the Sierra Club and The Defenders, and Gary Swick with Friends of the Fox River Monitoring Network. Following the brief talks, which focused on keeping the Fox River clean and conservation, attendees suited up with gloves and bags provided by the Sierra Club and hit the dirt, scouring for trash and recyclables.  What they found amounted to approximately 1,000 lbs. of trash and 15 bags of recyclables.  These numbers would have been much higher if not for the stewardship of those responsible for keeping Cornish Park, and thereby the river, clean on a regular basis.   

Many individuals and families came out to clean up, as did organized groups, including AT&T Pioneers and two Algonquin Cub Scout Troops – Pack 151 from Eastview Elementary School and Pack 155 from Algonquin Lakes Elementary School.  Volunteers walked along the shoreline, crossed the bridge to clean up the east side of the river, and walked west along Crystal Creek toward Towne Park.  Some of the more unusual items picked up included a sprinkler and an auto 4-cylinder engine block.  Some even had the opportunity to learn about water quality monitoring through Friends of the Fox River.  During the clean up, a local band – The Mack Hotterson Band featuring musicians Alan Parquette, Eliot Levy and Randy Siewert – performed everything from Van Morrison to Nirvana.   

During the last part of the event there were exciting canoe and kayak demonstrations given by the St. Charles Canoe Club and The Prairie Coast Paddlers.  Taking advantage of the calmness of Crystal Creek just before it meets the Fox, the two groups demonstrated paddling techniques and water safety, and drew cheers from the crowd with an Eskimo roll or two.  Out on the swiftly moving Fox River, the kayaks played in the rapids and demonstrated a rope rescue of a kayaker floating downstream without her boat. With summer-like conditions that day, a surfer also took to the Fox for some fun on the “waves.”   

With speakers, clean up, music, and paddling demonstrations, the three-hour event was constructive as well as festive.  The organizer, Cynthia Kanner, Algonquin resident and Board of Directors member of the Environmental Defenders of McHenry County, sends a very warm thanks to all of those involved, especially the Village of Algonquin for their co-sponsorship.  Everyone present did his or her part to clean up the Fox River while learning how much fun rivers can be and how vital clean rivers are to our communities.   

“The Sun shines not on us but in us.

The Rivers flow not past, but through us.”

John Muir

 

 

Environmental Defenders of McHenry County, 124 Cass Street, Suite 3, Woodstock, Illinois 60098
815-338-0393  mcdef@owc.net