Fishy duck issues at Kankakee River SP

Access to Kankakee River State Park will not be denied during waterfowl season, despite what is printed on page 21 of the 2008 Illinois Fishing Information booklet and online.

Kankakee River State Park (Kankakee/Will Counties) Recreational Use Restrictions . . Waterfowl Refuge or Hunting Area (19)(33)

Mike Clifford, the conservation leader for the Illinois Smallmouth Alliance, was the first to drop me a note about this. I assumed he meant the long-standing reg (19), explained on page 9.

19) No fishing within 250 yards of an occupied waterfowl blind (within the hunting area) on all Department-owned or Department-managed areas.

But on closer look, I realized (33) was added, and it had the potential to virtually shut down access to the 20 or so miles of shoreline in the KRSP for up to 97 days every year.

On page 10, the explanation is given:

33) It shall be unlawful to trespass upon a designated waterfowl hunting area during the 7 days prior to the regular duck season, or to fish on such areas during the regular duck and Canada goose season except in areas posted as open to fishing. It shall be unlawful to trespass upon areas designated as waterfowl rest areas or refuges from 2 weeks prior to the start of the regular duck season through the end of duck and Canada goose season.

So I started making calls and was given assurances there is no way general access to the park would be halted during the fall.

But I wanted something more formal. Finally, Chris McCloud, spokesman for the IDNR, e-mailed,

It was an attempt to standardize the boating/fishing restriction verbiage between the fishing rule (810) and the waterfowl rule (590). No operational changes (public access) from past practice were intended by these rule changes. It will be fixed.

Currently, it is listed as under review by JCAR, the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules. This is something I could use help staying on top of. We need to make sure this is changed before it becomes part of the permanent record.

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