A Jewel on the south side has finally been discovered

No motor boats, no barges, and deep enough not to scratch the bottom of your boat.  Finally the secret of a beautiful flowing river in the southern suburbs of Chicago has been discovered.  In the fall of 2015, the Forest Preserves of Cook County opened a new boat ramp along the Little Calumet River at the Kickapoo Woods Forest Preserve.  The immediate feedback from avid paddlers and novices alike was that it’s a perfect location.  Kickapoo Woods offers plenty of parking in a safe, well-lit area for paddlers to enjoy.  Not only does the new launch site offer easy access to the river, but the location along the shallow portion of the Upper Little Calumet River makes it a perfect place for beginner and intermediate paddlers.  Meander is the perfect word to describe the paddling experience on this section of the river.  The river bends and curves, and on most days the river’s flow is calm enough to offer a gentle riding experience in the great outdoors.

Join the Calumet Waterway Stewards, a coalition of outdoor enthusiast and community organizations for not only a river clean up, but an introduction to both canoeing and kayaking on this gem in the southern suburbs. Saturday morning, June 4th 2016, is the day of the “Little Calumet River Day at Kickapoo Woods.”

Please join us on an exploration of this secret south side treasure!

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Little Calumet River Day 2016

Only a short time away from the start of boat season. We hope to be back in the water again by the end of March. Big plans are underway for 2016’s Little Calumet River DAY – that’s right, a whole day celebrating our local river. Mark your calendar now for June 4, 2016 at Kickapoo Woods.

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Little Calumet River 2015 Recap

Forty-six people helped clean up the Little Calumet River in 2015, with some launching from Little Calumet Boat Launch Preserve and some from Gouwens Park. Participants found interesting trash in the river, including a cabinet, a child’s bike, traffic cones, a laundry basket, and a chair. The organizers kept the bike to refurbish it so another child can enjoy it. It was also a great day for viewing wildlife, and participants saw a multitude of birds and turtles on the water. This year the Little Calumet River Clean up will be held from a brand new launch site, installed at Kickapoo Woods by the Forest Preserves of Cook County and paddling instruction will also be offered!

CWS 2016 paddle (1) CWS 2016 paddle (2) CWS 2016 paddle (3)

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Clean Up Set for 2015

Mark your calendars now Saturday, June 6, 2015 as we hit the waters of the Little Calumet River for our annual cleanup day.

Registration will open in 2015. Once again we’ll be providing boats for those that need them as well as a longer route for more experienced paddlers.

We’re looking forward to see you again. Summer will be here before you know it!

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Join Centennial Volunteers this Fall!

Be a part of river and forest revitalization by joining an inspiring movement of volunteers gathering to restore five special sites along the Chicago and Calumet Rivers. Learn what it takes to restore diverse wildlife, trees, wildflowers, and health in our forest preserves and our river system. Our goal is to grow a community of people who will become caretakers and stewards of these five sites through on-going education and training.

Saturday, Setember 20
10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Somme Woods Forest Preserve
1714 Dundee Road, Northbrook

Saturday, September 27
10 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Blue Star Memorial Woods
Harms Road, Glenview

Saturday, October 4
1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
LaBagh/Hernandez Woods
5275 N Cicero, Chicago

Saturday, October 4
10:00 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Whistler Woods
678 W 134th St, Riverdale

Saturday, October 11
10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Kickapoo Woods and Prairie
Kickapoo Meadows, Harvey

Join in, learn some ecology and lend a hand. RSVP at www.fpdcc.com/CV. Join a group of volunteers who are interested in improving our local environment and having a good time doing it. Come dressed to be outdoors. Wear long pants and close-toed shoes.

Supported by the Forest Preserves of Cook County, Friends of the Forest Preserves, Friends of the Chicago River and Audubon Chicago Region.

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Thanks for Participating!

Thanks to all for joining us at the Little Calumet River clean up on June 7th!

59 people launched from the Little Calumet Boat Ramp and headed upstream toward Kickapoo Meadows, cleaning up the river. Another 12 launched from Gouwens Park and headed toward the Little Calumet Boat Launch Preserve, cleaning up from South Holland to Kickapoo Meadows in Harvey. Participants included Illinois Water TrailKeepers, families with children, adults, graduate students from University of Illinois at Chicago and high school students from Rauner College Prep in Chicago. It was a dedicated group, tackling both large trash, like tires, and smaller trash like plastic bags hanging from tree branches. Wildlife seen along the route included an egret and young-of-the-year northern water snake at the launch, and a turtle and heron seen during the trip. Afterwards participants had lunch, learned about volunteer opportunities and the ecology of the Calumet area.

Thanks to all participants and to Openlands, Illinois Water TrailKeepers, Cook County Forest Preserves, the City of Blue Island, The Field Museum, Friends of the Chicago River, Southeast Environmental Task Force, Chicago River Canoe and Kayak, and REI for a great day.

Check out photos on our flickr page!

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Last Day to Register for June 7 Cleanup

Don’t delay: Thursday, June 5 will be your last day to register for our June 7 paddle and clean up if you need to borrow a boat. We’ll have canoes and kayaks available FREE for participants. Ever wanted to explore the Little Cal? Your guides Laura and Jason will explain the natural and cultural history of this very unique waterway as we launch from Little Calumet Boat Ramp in Blue Island.

Experienced paddlers meet at Gouwen’s Park for a 7 mile journey from South Holland to Blue Island, led by River Hero and Illinois Water TrailKeeper Captain Mike.

Register Here.

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Michael Taylor: River Hero

Our very own Captain Mike is headed to River Rally this weekend to pick up a special award: Michael Taylor has been recognized as a 2014 River Hero!

The River Heroes Award celebrates rivers, watersheds and those who protect them. This is our opportunity to recognize some of our successes and honor those who provide us with leadership, inspiration and heart. Heroes are peer nominated, peer-selected and peer-honored.

Congrats to our friend and Captain, Michael Taylor. Read his story here.

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Calumet Water Trail Community Workshops

The City of Blue Island, Openlands and other partners are holding a series of workshops to raise awareness of Calumet area water trails, how water trails uniquely connect people to the ecology of Calumet, and to inspire stewardship activity.

Kayaking training was held at Eisenhower High School on May 3rd to prepare participants for a summer of paddling! Ten participants took the training, with REI Outdoor School offering instruction.

There are several upcoming free paddling events in Calumet. Get these on your calendar and email Laura Barghusen at lbarghusen@openlands.org for more information or to register:

June 7, 2014: Little Calumet River – Register Here!
August 9, 2014: Powerhorn Lake
September 13, 2014: Wolf Lake

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Green Drinks and Green Infrastructure

Green Drinks returns to Blue Island’s Rock Island Public House this Thursday, May 8 with Chicago Wilderness’ Sustainable Watershed Action Team – SWAT! The team will be describing the work being done in the Calumet region to expand Chicago Wilderness’ Green Infrastructure Vision (GIV). The GIV guides the protection and development of an accessible, interconnected network of healthy ecosystems that contribute to economic vitality and quality of life for all the region’s residents.

Event begins at 6pm with networking, speakers at 7pm. Part of the Chicago Southland Green Drinks series.

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