GENEVA – Geneva resident Steve Matravers came to the first of three open houses June 17 about the Fox River watershed. It featured maps of the water trail and existing access sites along 14 segments of the Fox River.
The three open houses were scheduled in order for the public to learn more about the Fox River watershed and for officials to add information to data they already have collected.
Matravers and others came to a meeting room at the Kane County Government Center, 719 S. Batavia Ave., Geneva, which was full of maps on easels illustrating the Fox River from Wisconsin through Illinois.
“I wanted to come and show my support and see what was going on with the mapping,” said Matravers, an arborist and a member of the Geneva Natural Resources Committee. “I also canoe and fish on the Fox River.”
South Elgin resident Melissa Martin said she came to the open house to see how her riverfront property is represented – particularly as she lives just above the dam on the east side.
“The dam is not on the map,” Martin said, marking one of the maps with a red pen to show where it is located. “I am here to find out what the plan is, find out what their intentions are. I lived on the Fox all my life, raised 11 children and have three grandchildren who I want to experience the river as I have.”
Called The Fabulous Fox! Water Trail, the project has been in development for several years with organizers from Illinois and Wisconsin working with the National Park Service, Southeast Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission and the Fox River Ecosystem Partnership, among others.
The ultimate goal is for the development team to apply for inclusion in the National Park Service National Water Trail System.
After collecting input at the open houses, the development team will do an analysis and make recommendations to public landowners on how to improve non-motorized recreation on the Fox River.
“We want to know if there was anything we missed,” said Barbara Messick of Waterford, Wisconsin, representing Wisconsin and the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission. “We want to know if there are any access points we can add.”
Connie Sue Schmidt, chairwoman of the Illinois Chapter of the Sierra Club, said, “I’m really excited they are working on a comprehensive plan for recreation and safety of the water and public use and access, as well as habitat.”
Karen Ann Miller, a Kane County planner, said it was important to educate the public about the Fox River so they will appreciate it and protect it.
“I think rivers are becoming more and more recognized as valuable natural resources for recreation, especially non-motorized recreation,” Miller said.
Also at the open house were Angie Tornes of the National Park Service, Thomas Slawski, chief biologist for the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission, Brian Daly, senior planner for the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, and John Kremer of the McHenry County Conservation District.
The other two open houses are from 4 to 6 p.m. June 24 at the Hampton Inn, 310 E. Countryside Parkway, Yorkville, and June 28 at the city of McHenry Recreation Center, 333 S. Green St., McHenry.