AURORA, Ill. — Local leaders and nonprofit groups are looking into turning the Fox River in Illinois and Wisconsin into a federally designated water trail.
Kane County in Illinois is working with the Fox River Ecosystem Partnership and other organizations in pursuing the National Park Service designation, the (Aurora) Beacon-News reported. The groups obtained a grant from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to draft maps about the water trail development.
The move is also backed by environmental and economic-development groups as a way to attract more people to the river, which runs from southeastern Wisconsin through Chicago's western suburbs and into the Illinois River near Ottawa, Illinois.
Officials hope to host forums to show the maps and offer more information to the public on the water trail effort in 2019, said Karen Miller, a Kane County planner of the National Park Service Water Trail System program.
"The idea is to promote non-motorized participation on the rivers," Miller said.
Residents have been contributing information about the river's conditions, dams, portages, signage and camp sites, Miller said.
Aurora resident Charlie Zine took a kayaking trip this summer to consider the water trail proposal with Chuck Roberts, a former president of the Friends of the Fox River.
"I'm in favor of the water trail, I really am," Zine said. "But I'm not sure about certain parts of it."
He recommended creating a water trail designation on the Fox River in segments, instead of the entire length of the river. Zine is concerned that a section in the Chain O' Lakes area from the Illinois state line to Algonquin is more hazardous for non-motorized forms of transit, such as kayaks and canoes.
Zine said that the water is deeper and the wind could make the area unsafe to beginners and novices.
But the other two segments work well as a water trail, according to Zine.
The segment from Colgate, Wisconsin, to the Illinois border has plenty of visible wildlife, such as snapping turtles, crawfish and beavers. The segment from Algonquin to Ottawa passes through a number of towns, according to Zine.
"The beauty of it is you have wonderful stretches of nature, but there are towns where you can get what you need — stores, restrooms, restaurants," he said.