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Off the Trail: Aug. 23, 2018

August 23, 2018

EDITOR’S NOTE: A single fishing line collection station has stood at the Bird Park boat launch in Kankakee for a number of years, placed there by the BoatUS Foundation. Another sign there, erected by the Kankakee Valley Park District, warns that a Kankakee County ordinance prohibits possession of glass containers on or near the river; Fines up to $75.

Last Saturday, I met up with a group of local fishermen at Bird Park. The mission was to assemble specifically designed PVC tubes that will be used to recycle fishing line.

The do-it-yourself event was organized by Bill Terrill who spends a lot of time fishing at the Kankakee dam and noticed the need.

The idea got wide support from the more than 4,000-member-strong Kankakee River Rats Facebook group.

Terrill became aware of the recycling program on a recent trip to the Dakotas, where he noted how little trash he saw along the banks.

The nationwide program is run by the Berkley fishing line company in Iowa. Since 1990 Berkley has partnered with local fisherman to recycle more than 9 million miles worth of fishing line. According to their website, 9 million miles would fill two reels for every angler in America.

The local team assembled 14 recycling stations for the Kankakee River. Parts for the stations were donated by Chris Harris and Bilal Eassa.

Dayna Heitz, of the Kankakee Valley Park District, also was able to provide the signs and decals for the stations. Heitz and other park district staff took possession of 11 of the newly-created stations to be placed at park district sites up and down the river.

Terrill kept the last three that would be given to the city of Kankakee for recycling points at the dam and Fourth Avenue. Terrill had great praise for Heitz’s eager willingness to help with the project and for Kankakee Mayor Chasity Wells-Armstrong, who met him at the Kankakee dam to be introduced to the recycling idea.

In the future, Terrill hopes more stations can be placed along the river from South Bend, Ind., to Wilmington. He envisions it a stewardship project for local fisherman.

“We have to get people involved in the health of the river, we have to get people that care enough to take action,” he said. “It would be great if people became stewards of their favorite fishing spots and adopted these stations.”

I asked Heitz how soon the park district sites will be up and running. She said “ASAP. We have the signs and decals ordered so as soon as they arrive we will put them up.”

Once installed they will be checked every two weeks by maintenance staff. Once collected, the fishing line will be mailed to Berkley.

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