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State of Illinois

Office of Lieutenant Governor Pat Quinn

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                    Tuesday, August 31, 2004

 

 

Letter-to-the-Editor
(473 words)

1st ANNUAL “IT’S OUR RIVER DAY” ON SEPTEMBER 18 A GREAT WAY TO CELEBRATE ILLINOIS WATERWAYS

Dear Editor,

Illinois waterways have been crucial in shaping the culture, commerce and communities of our state. Ancient civilizations settled along our rivers because of the rich diversity of plant and animal life, and access to trading partners. Early pioneers settled here not via wagon train, but by canoes and flatboats. Millions of migratory birds use Illinois rivers as flight patterns. Today, we still rely on rivers for drinking water, transporting goods and nature-based recreation.

The vital link between the Great Lakes and Gulf of Mexico flows across Illinois, from the increasingly clean Chicago River to the resource-rich Illinois River to the mighty Mississippi. The Illinois River, its tributaries and all of Illinois’ rivers and streams - big and small - are the lifeblood of our nation.

On Saturday, September 18, a statewide celebration of these precious resources will occur in towns across Illinois. The 1st Annual “It’s Our River Day” will feature dozens of activities and events promoting recreation, conservation and education about Illinois rivers.

For example, you could tour the Jake Wolf Hatchery in Mason County and see how coho salmon are reared. Take a canoe or kayak ride. Learn to fish in Yorkville or Chillicothe, or fish for free in the historic I&M Canal.

Or you could roll up your sleeves and volunteer at any of 20 community “Illinois River Sweep” clean-ups being organized by the Friends of the Illinois River. These river sweeps are a great way to get to know your neighbors while cleaning up your riverfront, and you never know what you might find.

The goal of “It’s Our River Day” - which will be held on the third Saturday of every September - is to boost awareness of rivers by offering hands-on conservation activities as well as lively recreational opportunities. Broad citizen participation is needed to protect this natural resource, and “It’s Our River Day” is an important organizing tool for private and public agencies concerned with protecting this asset.

Illinois rivers are increasingly becoming attractive tourist destinations. Such activities as bird-watching, fishing paddling and boating generate revenue for many towns along the rivers. Any investment of time or money in the preservation and protection of our waterways is an investment in Illinois’ future.

A Native American proverb states, “We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.” That must be the guiding principle of our stewardship and is the sentiment behind “It’s Our River Day”.

For details on the many “It’s Our River Day” activities on September 18, call the Lieutenant Governor’s Office at 217-782-7884 or visit www.CleanWater.il.gov.

 

Sincerely,

                                   

 

Pat Quinn

Illinois Lieutenant Governor

 

(As Lieutenant Governor, Quinn is Chairman of the Illinois River Coordinating Council, which is responsible for coordinating public and private funding for restoration of the Illinois River watershed.)