Boaters Oppose Bill to Put State Government in Charge of Chain of Lakes & Fox River

A press release from the Illinois Boaters Association:

War on Illinois Boaters Continues… Senators Link & Morrison Propose Legislation to Dissolve the Fox Waterway Agency

Two Lake County Illinois Senators, Terry Link of Waukegan and Julie Morrison of Deerfield have sponsored a January 28, 2014 bill, SB 2696 which calls for the dissolution of the Fox Waterway Agency with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources immediately assuming control over the Chain O’Lakes waterway system located in Lake and McHenry counties and which is composed of fifteen lakes connected by the Fox River and various man made channels.

[That would eliminate the locally-elected Board of the Waterway Agency.]

The Chain O’Lakes encompasses over 7,100 acres of water, 45 miles of river, and boasts more than 488 miles of shoreline.

Boat cabin cruiser on Chain of Lakes

Boat on the Chain of Lakes

The Chain O’Lakes is the busiest inland recreational waterway per acre in the United States.

Since 1983, the Fox Waterway Agency, this locally elected and largely self-funded agency has served this dynamic and unique navigable waterway system.

The Illinois Boaters Association and its Political Action Committee, Boaters Are Voters takes extreme exception to this latest anti-boating proposed legislation and finds it distasteful, ignorant, and not at all in the best interests of any citizen of Illinois.

Passage of this legislation would destroy the Chain O’Lakes as a regional boating destination and would have an immediate, lasting, and wholly negative effect on the economy of Illinois.

Senator Julie Morrison, a freshman Senator came to Springfield with an anti-boating agenda due to the tragic loss of her nephew while the child was being towed through a channel on the Chain O’Lakes in a rental boat.

The intoxicated boater responsible was sentenced to 10 years in Illinois prison for his crime.

Morrison’s family, an exceedingly wealthy generation law firm has brought a civil suit against the boat driver, the boat passenger, the boat rental facility and even the Fox Waterway Agency.

On December 19, 2013, Judge James Murphy, a Kane county Judge who is presiding over the Lake County case, 12L961, dismissed the Fox Waterway as a Defendant with prejudice from the Borcia family lawsuit.

Dismissed with prejudice means that this case cannot be brought again against the Fox Waterway Agency.

The Borcia family civil lawsuit against the other defendants continues.

Senator Morrison’s War on Illinois Boating began with a flurry of ill conceived, illogical and potentially unconstitutional assaults on the Illinois boater last summer.

In SB 1478, Senator Morrison calls for 8 hours of safety training for any person born before 1990 prior to be allowed on anything that floats in Illinois.

In its original form, this bill would have prohibited kayaks, canoes and even inner-tubes use based solely on age in Illinois.

In SB 1805 Senator Morrison called for a flag to designate a boat was towing a skier or tuber.

Critical flaws with SB 1805 include that Morrison’s color of flag choice directly contradicts the international and national safety colors and would designate a boat in distress to any knowledgeable captain, not a boat towing persons.

In SB 1477, Senator Morrison proposes legislation to link a boating while under the influence conviction with a suspension of an Illinois Driver’s License.

One does not need an Illinois Driver’s License to operate a boat and this proposed legislation links one criminal act with an unrelated civil penalty and creates a legal slippery slope in Illinois.

Terry Link

Terry Link

Powerful Senator Terry Link, who has served his Lake Michigan shoreline Waukegan area district since 1996 has a history of disdain for the Illinois voter. He has actively voted to disenfranchise the local control of elections.

Senator Link was the only Lake County state official to vote in support of HB 2418.

This bill, which went on to become law only to be overturned as being unconstitutional by the Illinois Courts sought to take away election oversight powers from the elected Lake County Clerk.

Senator Link recently lost a primary election contest in 2013 when he sought to double dip as simultaneous Illinois State Senator and Mayor of Waukegan.

The Fox Waterway Agency is led by locally elected Illinois citizens.

Senators Link and Morrison seek to remove local control of this unit of government and to punish Illinois boaters as well all just to consolidate more power in Springfield. The Fox Waterway Agency is largely self-sufficient; paying it is bills through waterway usage fees and profits off its active dredging operations.

IL Boaters Assoc logoThe Illinois Boaters Association and Boater for Boaters PAC question why a self-supporting, locally elected and controlled unit of government would be so unfairly targeted when Illinois has the worst credit rating of any state in the nation?

Ironically, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources is even on record stating they are not in a position to assume the duties of the Fox Waterway Agency and does not want this duty.

It is the belief of our membership that nothing positive can be served by the dissolution of the Fox Waterway Agency and such an act would have a negative economic impact on the region specifically and the region in general.

Boating on the majestic waters of Illinois waterways is a time honored tradition.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources reports that over 312,000 boats were registered in 2012 in Illinois.

Bad legislation such as what Senators Link and Morrison are championing is not trivial and will affect poorly on the state.

The Illinois Boaters Association and its Boaters Are Voters PAC are wholly grass-roots, or as we prefer to think of ourselves a ‘feet-wet’ citizen association that has risen up against these well funded and entrenched politicians who actively seek to disenfranchise the local Illinois voter while attacking the family centered and time honored tradition of boating and boating related activities in Illinois. We are a nonpartisan issue based association with the three core values–education, advocacy, and celebration of all aspects of Illinois boating.

We do support common sense legislation such as a brief safety requirement for those that would rent a boat in Illinois.

We are on the front lines and represent the average citizen’s voice in this War on Illinois Boating. The PAC has received exceptional responses from our candidate questionnaire from over seventy candidates who will appear on the Lake and McHenry county ballots in March of 2014. Formal endorsements of candidates will be publicly announced on March 11, 2014.

Membership and more information can be found online at

The next meeting of the Fox Waterway Agency is on February 27, 2014 at 7 PM in Fox Lake.

The meeting is open to the public. Representatives of the Illinois Boaters Association will be at this meeting. Please check for the time and location of the March 11, 2014 candidate endorsement rally and membership drive.


Boaters Oppose Bill to Put State Government in Charge of Chain of Lakes & Fox River — 4 Comments

  1. The sun should have set long ago on this patronage pot.

    Initially, this was represented as a small operation, “just someone in the office a day or two a week” was the way it was pitched.

    Large expensive dredging equipment was purchased; product moved and stored with undisclosed costs to the taxpayers.

    It wasn’t long that the office grew to the present, overpaid staff.

    Has anyone seen anything in the past 5 to 10 years that warrants another do-nothing “agency:”?

    Sen. Althoff’s support is predictable; the politicians that created the Agency are likely the same people that put her in office.

  2. Here’s a copy of a letter I’ve sent to state senators:

    The FWA is the governing body charged with waterway management, ecological preservation and recreational oversight on the Fox Chain O’ Lakes. SB2696 seeks to shift FWA’s responsibilities to the Illinois Dept. of Natural Resources (IDNR) and to dissolve the FWA. Should such a bill become law, a sensitive and vital natural resource in our state could be significantly and irreversibly compromised.

    The Fox Chain O’ Lakes area is truly unique in terms of population density and the intensity of use pressures placed on the ecosystem. It is the busiest inland waterway system per-acre in the United States, with approximately 22,000 registered watercraft on fifteen connected lakes and some 7,100 acres of water. It is a very popular destination among fishermen, kayakers and wildlife enthusiasts. It provides a sprawling venue for a number of winter-oriented recreational activities as well. Add to all this the propensity for regular flooding of the river, lakes and channels due to extensive regional development and the vastness of the upstream watershed, and it becomes readily apparent that this great resource – surely one of the “crown jewels” of Illinois – demands and deserves a dedicated governing body to manage its delicate ecology. There can be no doubt that body is the FWA, as it has championed the cause of preservation and successfully maintained the balance between economy and ecology for more than thirty years.

    While the IDNR merits tremendous respect for all the work its staff does, and has done, in the interest of natural resource management around the state, it simply lacks the operational resources to successfully replace the FWA. Even if additional manpower and facilities were to be allocated the IDNR would be ill-equipped to “fill the shoes” of the FWA, as the latter has extensive experience handling the site-specific demands of the waterway. In short, those who hold the Fox Chain nearest and dearest – the sports and outdoor enthusiasts, the area residents and visitors, the boaters – understand how imperative the FWA is to ensuring this venerable resource will be available for generations to come.

    Nothing good can come of more power consolidation in Springfield. We all see how well it’s worked out for the citizens so far, with countless officials (incl. four governors) sentenced to prison over the years and countless seated lawmakers who surely belong there.

    Anyone who believes the DNR could do a better job is delusional and/or grossly misinformed. Morrisey’s motivations are dispicably self-serving, but typical of an IL politician. Link, well, he’s just Link – clueless and blind with an insatiable lust for power and control. Link & morrisey want to consolidate power in the IDNR so they can force their anti-boater, anti-voter agenda down the throats of the taxpayers unabated. Morrisey is a hypocrite consumed with punishing all boaters for the death of her nephew, while the boy’s father unjustly evades the child endangerment charges that are so clearly warranted in his son’s death. I hate to sound callous and cold, but Morrisey isn’t satisfied with the court case outcome and continues to “pick the scab open”. The truth is I am anything but unsympathetic or indifferent about the boy’s death, I was nearby on our boat when it happened and was very moved by the tragic loss. Punishment has been meted out, now it’s time to let everyone heel.

  3. $85 bucks per boat a year for no public ramps, parking or beaches provided from the funds extorted by the FRA is ridiculous.

    The Fox River agency has lost sight of the original intent. (if there was one)

    The DNR is already present along with Coast-Guard,lake and Mchenry sheriffs in patrolling the water ways.

    I have 3 boats and can’t possibly use them all at once but I pay over 250 Dollars a year so I’m not fined for a use permit. (read TAX” Send them on their way.

    The dredging for waterfowl hunting and a few “private coves” is unconscionable imo.

    ull the land/water access that the FRA stands on and make it a public ramp and beach.

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