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Illinois hunting and fishing

Friends hope to help Rice Lake

July 18, 2010 at 02:33 AM

Duck blind drawings

Drawings for duck blinds on Illinois River public sites are next Sunday, July 25.

Registration is from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. Anyone registering for the drawing must be 16 or older, have a valid FOID card, a 2009 or 2019 Illinois hunting license and a 2009 or 2010 Illinois Migratory Waterfowl Stamp.

Applicants under the age of 21 do not need a FOID card if they are accompanied by an adult who has one. For those without a FOID card, law enforcement officers will not be able to validate their status at the drawing.


Eight bumpy years have passed since the last comprehensive repairs to the rutted roads of Banner Marsh.

While that comes as no surprise to anyone who has battled Banner’s goat paths, the lack of gravel underlines an important point.

Most state-run natural areas in Illinois are ailing. Without help soon, they will only get worse. But given the state budget deficit, there’s no sign of help on the horizon.

With that in mind, a group of hunters, anglers and outdoors enthusiasts have banded together to form a new advocacy group called Friends of Rice Lake (FORL). While the official name only lists Rice Lake, the group’s mission statement is “to support, enhance and protect the Rice Lake, Banner Marsh and Double T state fish and wildlife areas.”

All three popular areas are located within 35 minutes of Peoria and all three are part of the same Rice Lake complex. So whether you catch bass at
Banner, duck hunt at Rice Lake or photograph birds at Double T, this non-profit group will serve your interests.

“What we want to do basically is to help (Rice Lake site manager Bill Douglass) and his crew in any way they need help, whether it’s with funds or as a voice,” said Adam Jaegle of Bartonville, president of FORL. “We just want to be able to preserve what we have, make sure it’s there for the future and maybe make it better.”

The first fund-raiser for Friends of Rice Lake is next Sunday, July 25, during the annual duck-blind drawing at Rice Lake.

Volunteers will sign-up members at various levels: $10 for youngsters 16 and under, $25 for members, $50 for sponsors and $250 for major donors.
Depending on how much you donate, you’ll receive a window decal, hat or t-shirt as well as chances at various prizes. Illinois hunting and fishing

Hats and t-shirts with the Friends of Rice Lake logo will also be sold, as will raffle tickets for Butch Louck’s unique, hand-carved drake mallard decoy. Louck spent more than 300 hours on the decoy he calls “Standing Proud,” which will be raffled Aug. 18.

For those who can’t attend the duck-blind drawings, information will soon be available on or at Presley’s Outdoors in Bartonville.
Germantown Hills resident Louck donated the decoy because he believes, “We ought to step up and help in tough economic times.”

That’s an honorable reaction to the sad reality facing natural areas run by the Department of Natural Resources. Budget cuts have forced site managers like Douglass to make tough decisions. “Do you plant food for wildlife or rock a road?” he asked.

Beyond gravel, Douglass rattled off a long wish-list of goods and services: goose pits at Double T, a 15-foot bat-wing mower, a no-till planter, a brush cutter, boats for Banner Marsh, lumber and paint for picnic tables, money for excavator rental, camp stoves, buoys, trail markers, wood duck boxes, seed and chemical as needed, pumps, a snow plow ... and on and on.

No wonder DNR Director Marc Miller wants more outdoors types to band together. “We need these partners,” Miller said. “I think that advocacy groups can have a large impact on the budget and on the legislative process.”

Certainly that’s been true for the Friends of Sanganois, whose success is a template for the Friends of Rice Lake. For the past six years Friends of Sanganois has been a tireless advocate for levee repairs at that state site. The group has also generated close to $10,000 per year for road repairs, boat ramps, mowers and other needed equipment and improvements.

“We’ve spent thousands in rock for roads because the state just won’t do it,” said Bo Arnold, president of Friends of Sanganois. “I get the feeling if we didn’t pay for it, it would never get done.”

At the same time, there’s an understandable resistance to fork over more money to a state-run facility. As hunters and anglers we already pay taxes. Plus we are paying more for license fees this year. Why pay even more?

Ultimately, that’s up to each of us to decide.

One guarantee FORL makes is that all funds raised will be used only for improvements or youth-related events at the Rice Lake complex.

That’s one reason I see this as a worthwhile venture. Yes, there’s some bias involved since I’m also secretary of FORL (largely by default after the Head
Worm tried to include an “x” in his spelling of secretary).

But my real bias is more selfish than that.

Some of the most enjoyable outdoors experiences I’ve enjoyed around here were at Banner or Rice Lake. I want my children to have that same opportunity.


Your CommentsComments :: Terms :: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Great to see a constructive effort! One thing the article did not mention is that outside groups can get stuff done more efficiently quicker than government can. They don’t have as many hoops to jump in and out of. An example of that would be the Triangle Lake Waterfowl Refuge on the Mississippi River. Corps of Engineers estimated 2.2 million dollars to build the levee and studied the concept for over 10 years. DU, the local sportsmans club and a park district teamed up. Six month construction time, better design to the project and a cost of only $261,000. I wish FORL the best in their efforts.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 07/18 at 07:58 AM

I will be involved in this worthwhile project since some of my fondest memories center around Banner Marsh and Rice Lake (particularly the walk-ins).  My only concern:  will the state see all this “free” help and support and use it as an excuse to cut the local DNR workforce?  The state of Illinois is notorious for doing things like that.  For me, the money isn’t even an issue as long as it is used strictly for Rice Lake area projects and benefits all users.  Perhaps FORL members, sponsors, and major donors could receive some sort of a break on duck blind fees at Banner.  Either way, Friends of Rice Lake is an organization I will gladly support!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 07/18 at 10:32 AM

I suspect that a part of the purpose of the organization is to put pressure on the administration and legislators to make sure staff isn’t reduced.  (Politicians listen to organized groups much more than individuals.)  As far as reduced fees for FORL members: NO!  You can’t help by siphoning some of the much needed funds via reduced fees.  It makes you look cheap, and gives the general public the appearance of favoritism.  Besides, any changes in fees would probably have to go thru the legislature or JACR-a bureaucratic maze and nightmare (trust me on that).

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 07/18 at 12:02 PM

My brother and I inquired years ago about volunteering our time along with others we hunt with to brush blinds at Banner and build 3 man pits for Double T. All material and labor was free of charge and volunteered. The only issue we had trouble with was finding a back hoe to install the pits at Double T. When we inquired about this at both Banner and Rice we were told the State would not allow this to happen. So here is what I suggested: That we all do this without anyone “really” knowing and take it upon ourselves. We would build the pits and deliver them to Rice and leave them there as a “donation” and brush and repair blinds at Banner on various weekends. I still do not understand why this can not be done as a “group” and save all the time and hassle of being an organized not-for-profit association.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 07/18 at 01:03 PM

Quackhead,  you answered your own question.  The efforts at the sites need to be “organized”, supervised and completed by standards that meet the site’s master management plan and state sites.  The site supertindent and the biologists that work on the site evaluate the ability to complete projects with the resources available on a continuous basis.  Liability and safety are also a concern for volunteers and the public.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 07/18 at 09:22 PM

Flathead - I do not need some master management plan from a state official or be supervised to build and or install a pit or brush a blind! I also do not need a state biologist to do an evaluation study plan on the resources available and waste yet more sportsmen money on studies for projects. I did not need a study done to know that friends and myself can brush all the blinds in 4 or less Saturdays at Banner and also do repairs with donated (FREE) materials and labor. I also have helped build and install some rather well built and very spacious pits in my short time of hunting and these have lasted up to 10yrs, so building a smaller version and installing them would not be a problem I forsee. Oh and as far as being “organized” well that had already been done amongst this group of friends before my brother and I inquired about it and was turned away so we informed all that was willing to volunteer time and material that it was a NO. GOOD LUCK but it is obvious to me that the State does not want our help only our money otherwise they would not require some ridiculous liscense for this group, which you will need an attorney and accountant for, to help do upkeep on something we are already paying for!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 07/19 at 12:47 AM

Anytime that money is collected from the public for a group such as this, they are required to be registered with the Illinois Secretary of State as a Non Profit Organization. There are thousands of scam artists working out there- this “some ridiculous liscense” helps make sure that the money donated goes for the groups stated purpose and does not wind up in someones pocket. NPO have rules that they must follow and IRS reporting that they must do. NPO status and rules are there to protect the public.

Quackhead, while you and your posse might know what they are doing, there are a lot of people out there that do not. Without a management plan for an area, you would have people putting pits (some good some bad) wherever- same way with blinds. Every person who has read an article on duck hunting thinks he has the formula and the state site would become a zoo pretty quick. Volunteers that work under organized programs at state sites are covered as “state workers”- this limits the liability in the event of an accident. You and your crew just going out doing your own thing would have no liability limits for the state if an accident occurs. Yes the DNR gets sued (a lot) and it costs a lot of money to defend. The vast majority of the suits are total bull….. I am sueing the state of Illinois because there was an underwater stump in Lake Shelbyville and they failed to adequately warn me…............ I am sueing the state of Illinois because there was mold present in the goose pit they rented me at Union County and I had a severe allergic reaction. I am sueing the state of Illinois because I sprained my ankle at the state park. The state failed to adequately warn me that algae and moss on rocks in creeks is slippery. Spend a day in Civil Court at your county courthouse watching who is sueing who, and for what. You will see why folks get very gun shy when it comes to liability.

Sometimes crazy union issues can arise…... if it is work at a state site that the state would normally hire or contract with a union firm with. They better NOT let volunteers do it. Putting in a goose pit would get the state crossways with the Teamsters who lost the work to haul, the Laborers, who lost the work to put it in, the Operating Engineers who lost the work to dig the hole…. etc. When on profit groups and charities are doing the same work, the unions will usually look the other way and sometimes even donate help. Kinda hard for them from a public relations standpoint to do otherwise. They would however see unorganized folks as scab labor and probably raise cain.

The site manager could have worked with your crew better it seems, but there are reasons for why they do what they do most of the time.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 07/19 at 07:57 AM

Nice post indeed! Quackhead please get ahold of FORL and we’ll get ya involoved.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 07/19 at 12:07 PM

i have been told the logo is going to be changed

The new logo wil feature a guy in a jonboat wearing a football helmet holding a baseball bat or a net while in the background asian carp are flying all around

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 07/19 at 03:28 PM

Lots of the commercial guys carry a garbage can lid for a shield.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 07/19 at 06:25 PM

I do not recall mentioning anything about collecting money. I do believe my post stated all material and labor would be provided free of charge. Oh and so I am clear we were not going to install the pits where ever we wanted and the blinds we were willing to help brush were those already at Banner provided by the State.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 07/19 at 08:51 PM

I heard from someone close to the source that Banner Marsh will open only 16 blinds this year due to a lack of summer interns and budget cuts.  If this is true, I am at a loss for words.  We pay 10 bucks each time we use a blind (I am personally in for 150 bucks last season).  That money apparently doesn’t stay at the originating facility but goes into the general DNR fund.  Licenses and fees have increased.  Who the hell are these people?!  A first year business major (or a LCpl in the Marine Corps) could run the show better!  This state is crapping on the hand that feeds it and I for one am sick of it.  I’m hoping FORL can help here.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 07/24 at 06:12 AM

About five years ago cuts were going deep with state budget and one of the biggest cuts was conversation outdoors like Rice Lake. I remember media ripping the state government for the cuts and so were a few people that worked for conversations areas like Rice Lake.

I have always enjoyed the walk-ins and I just mentioned to volunteer and help instead of complain. I had only good intensions but I got a lecture from a paid conservation worker, “would you like some volunteer person to come and do your job for free”. I would not like that at all and understood what he meant. I appreciate everything them men and women do so my family and the rest of the community have a place to hunt and fish.

That season I walked down a path that could of used some more reflectors so the hunters could find their way around at 5am in the dark and a path that could have used some work on it so hunters could get to his or her spot without getting lost.

I have had the opportunity to work on government budgets and I stand on the issue if you do not have the money to pay the bills then cut and do not add any bills. With that said the idea of spending money to fix problems is not the only solution. The biggest resource out there is labor. We should be looking to donate labor for your conservation areas where you play, fish, and hunt. There is an endless supply of individuals that would donate time to save the conversation area like Rice Lake. This is not a good idea for those who get paychecks for this work but the future is not bright for funding. If we as a community want a place like Rice lake to be around for ages we need to get together and donate our time to fix the needs of the areas we hunt and fish.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 07/24 at 08:09 PM

Semper Fi.  I believe I talked to you at the RL blind drawing & gave you my business card (from before I retired).  If you kept it and want to BS, and you kept the card, call me.  The phone # on the card is extinct, but the area code and prefix is right, just change the last #‘s to 3626.  You’ll probably have to leave a message, as I’m frequently down at my river camp.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 07/27 at 09:13 AM

Riverrat, yeah, that was me.  I have since found out that all blinds will be open at Banner this year, so that’s a good thing.  One guy in my group at RL got drawn 2nd out of the hat so it looks like we’re gonna be in a pretty good blind at Rice this year - #27.  I’ll keep in touch.  Take care and Semper Fi.


Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 07/28 at 06:59 AM

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