The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

March 30, 2013

City should hold off on dams

BY SAM VAN CAMP
Commercial-News

DANVILLE — I spent a little time yesterday at Ellsworth Park watching the water go over the dam and down the river. I have to wonder how much longer the rivers in our area will flow the way I have seen them throughout my lifetime.

I really don’t have much stake in this issue on removing dams other than I spent a lifetime in Vermilion County fishing rivers and lakes and meeting many really good people along the way. These people had children and their children had children and so on.

Neither of my children care to fish and hunt the way I have, so my stake in this issue is solely for future generations and for the people I met along the way who have produced these future generations and are no longer here with us to address this issue.

I was told yesterday that no matter how hard the fight, the issue is already settled and that the only possibility of keeping the dams in place is through the city aldermen that will cast a vote.

I have to wonder how many of these aldermen have ever used the river, let alone been down to the dams in question. If they haven’t done these things how then in good conscience can they cast a vote that will affect the flow of our rivers and the drainage of a large portion of our county?

When I hear that this is cut and dried then I feel this has Illinois politics written all over it and, if there is one thing we all know about Illinois politics; it normally has some dirt in it somewhere!

I have to wonder why this issue has now gained such a head of steam and who might benefit the most if these dams are removed. Time tells all and we will see what crawls out from under this pile later down the road.

The dam behind the Public Safety was here long before the National Scenic River Act of 1968 and the river has adapted to that dam over the years. I have wonder if the EPA has done a feasibility study and whether they are onboard with this plan. I also wonder if the National Scenic River Groups have given the green light on this. Check out what the Illinois Department of Natural Resources says about our scenic river at http://dnr.state.il.us/lands/landmgt/parks/r3/Natlriv.htm and tell me how the action they propose with our dams goes along with what is on their website. The website says “It (The Middle Fork River) is protected by State and federal law because of its outstanding scenic, recreational, ecological, and historical characteristics.” Read it all but make sure you check out the part on canoeing; will enough water be left for canoeing?

I agree with the IDNR most of the time; they do a good job for our state. This is one time I would really like to see more studies done by other agencies that will back the IDNR’s statements on changes in the rivers and fish populations.

If you have any interest in saving these dams and believe the rivers should be left alone for future generations then come to a meeting Monday at 6 p.m. at the Knights of Columbus, 310 Bryan Street in Danville. I will be there along with others who met last Thursday evening to discuss how we can best deal with this issue.

Reminder

 I hope you bought your fishing license or that you plan to buy them today because tomorrow you will need one if you plan to fish this week. All you need to do is live to be my age and you get them at a discounted price. Make sure you stay legal and pick one up before you head out to fish.

 Illinois Free Fishing Days are June 7-10 this year. Please mark this on your calendar.

Sam Van Camp writes about the outdoors on Fridays and Sundays. Call him at 662-6559. Fax: 446-6648. E-mail: pamnsam@nwcable.net