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Paddling Club Rendezvous

Illinois Water TrailKeepers


DesPlaines River Marathon to provide support for Illinois Water TrailKeeper

A Big Thank You to the DesPlaines River Association for raising funding for Illinois Water TrailKeepers.  Over $600 was raised to further the mission of Monitoring, Reporting, Maintaining, and advocating for Illinois Water Trails!

Cleanup Corner

Cleanup Corner is a work in progress.  Moving Forward, Cleanup Corner will be a resource where people can promote their cleanup efforts, before and after the events.  Send information of upcoming cleanups or Cleanup Trip Reports to Tom Eckels

Program Description

Illinois Water TrailKeepers (WTK) is a joint program of the Illinois Paddling Council (IPC) and Openlands,  TrailKeepers is a corps of volunteer stewards for designated watertrails in Illinois.

Illinois Water TrailKeepers monitor and maintain seven watertrails in nine counties in northern Illinois totaling nearly 350 river miles.

These are the currently adopted TrailKeeper WaterTrails:

  • North Branch of the Chicago River
  • Little Calumet River
  • Salt Creek
  • Des Plaines River (from the Wisconsin border to McKinley Woods Forest Preserve)
  • Fox River (in McHenry, Lake, Kane and Kendall Counties)
  • DuPage River (including the West Branch and East Branch)
  • Kishwaukee River (in Boone & Winnebago Counties)

TrailKeeper Stewards

“Reach Stewards” take responsibility for a reach of an adopted watertrail. Reach Stewards monitor and report on trail conditions. They maintain the trail by conducting on-the-water, bank and site clean-up. Reach Stewards may also advocate for the development and improvement of their reach and the watertrail. Reach Stewards may recruit and coordinate the work of Reach and Trail Volunteers and other individuals and groups on their reach.

A Trail Steward takes responsibility for an entire watertrail. The Trail Steward manages the Reach Stewards and coordinates their work. The Trail Steward also coordinates the removal of larger obstructions and human hazards with the local authorities (if any) or with the TrailKeepers In-Stream Maintenance Crews.  The work of the Trail Stewards is coordinated by TrailKeeper Program Manager Tom Eckels who is also a Reach Steward on the Upper Des Plaines River WaterTrail.

The Illinois Paddling Council and Openlands would like to acknowledge the generous support of the Grand Victoria Foundation which funded the development of this program through a grant to Openlands..

You can help

You don't have to be a TrailKeeper to help your favorite watertrail. Paddlers can be the eyes and ears for TrailKeeper stewards by reporting deadfall, strainers and dangerous obstructions. To report a human hazard on the watertrails listed above click here to report a watertrail problem

To volunteer or to learn more about Illinois Water TrailKeepers click on the links below


Reach Steward:

Reach or WaterTrail volunteer:

Trail Steward:

Resources for TrailKeepers

TrailKeepers Policies

Assumption of Risk & Indemnification form

See a map of Northeastern Illinois watertrails

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