The DuPage River, named after a French fur trapper who established a trading post on the river, is currently enjoyed by the public for a wide array of recreational activities. But public access to the DuPage is currently under threat. Due to a landowner complaint, use of century-old publicly accessible boat launches and opportunities to float the DuPage River are in jeopardy of being closed to public use.
Ralph Osuch has been a resident of Plainfield, IL for 21 years and has used the DuPage during those two decades. Osuch fishes other rivers around the state, but the DuPage is an easy trip at just 15 minutes from his front door where he can see otters, eagles, cranes and deer all making use of the river.
He started a Change.org petition to keep the DuPage open to the public because of his love for the river after a concerning story bubbled up on social media about a landowner pushing for the river to be closed to public access. Osuch also believes there needs to be more explicit and obvious instructions to people hoping to recreate on public waters in Illinois.
“There needs to be signage – awareness of the laws and private property ... there needs to be clarity for use,” Osuch said.
While he has gathered over 10,000 signatures online, Osuch said he was more impressed with how people had come to the river itself and shown it love and care.
“The best part of the petition is that people have come out nowhere to support and clean up the river. You would be hard pressed to find trash between 135th and Electric Park," Osuch said.
The Illinois Chapter of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers believes all Americans should have the opportunity to access and recreate on our nation’s waterways. The ability to hunt, fish or float should not depend on a person’s economic or social status. Navigable waters should be held in the public trust to ensure the public’s right to recreate on accessible waters is not limited.
Photo credit: Ralph Osuch.