I read with interest the Mahomet Citizen’s Top 10 list for 2011. As the Sangamon River, I’m one of the oldest living members of this community, so I have my own perspective on what’s important. So here’s what I think are the Top 10 accomplishments of 2011.
#10. Notes from the River. While he’d be FAR too humble to put himself on his own top 10 list, I’m glad to include my buddy Scott’s new Citizen column, “Notes from the River”. Really, it’s a great column, you should try reading it sometime. And I’d also like to thank Amelia Benner at the Citizen for providing Scott this opportunity. He needed that.
#9. USRC/Sierra Club paddle. I really enjoy meeting new friends. And this past April, my friends at the USRC invited their friends at the Prairie Group of the Sierra Club for a wonderful outing. I did my best to impress all involved, but some of my fallen Silver Maples may have slowed things up a bit. Sorry, but it’s not my fault, they are a non-native species after all.
#8. Hazen Bridge Cleanups. The Hazen Bridge is one of my oldest surviving friends ,and I certainly appreciate the USRC taking care of my friend. Under Tim Garrow’s leadership, they cleaned it up, cleared brush and trees, and even spiffed up the bridge’s historical marker! Nice work!
#7. It’s our River Day. Every year in September the Lieutenant Governor’s Office hosts “It’s Our River Day.” This was the first year that I officially participated (with a little help from my friends). USRC members cleaned me up and worked to make me safer for paddlers. I really appreciated having my own special day and look forward to my special day 2012!
#6. River Steward of the Year Award. I’m sure he’d be FAR FAR too humble to actually list himself on his own top 10 list twice (and at number six yet). But Scott has done some great work to bring attention to me, to clean me up and just to enjoy spending time with me. And In September, he was awarded the Prairie Rivers Network River Steward of the Year Award for 2011. This is a statewide award, so I couldn’t be more proud of my buddy Scott and am glad to include him on my list yet again.
#5. New Village Board member. And speaking of success of my friends, this spring USRC President Bruce Colravy was elected to the Mahomet Village Board. And while there are many other friends of the River at the Village, notably long-time USRC Member Sean Widener and Mahomet Plan Commissioner Earl Seamands, having another voice for the river on Village Board is definitely a move in the right direction as far as I’m concerned.
#4. New (old) Canoes. Thanks to the generosity of local residents Char and Dan Brady and to George Stevens, the USRC now has two more canoes for USRC paddlers. The best way to experience me is to float down my waters, and thanks to their generosity and the handiwork of USRC members Jon Hanson and Alan Weith for making some necessary repairs, more people can join the USRC and use these boats to come out here and enjoy my company!
#3. Baby Bluebirds. For over a year now, the USRC has been leading efforts to bring more native species to riparian corridors along the river and its tributaries. Several volunteers built and placed Eastern Bluebird nesting boxes in the Sangamon River Greenway. This year I was proud to see 5 new baby bluebirds fledge from those nest boxes, proving that if you build it they will come!
#2. USRC makes presentation at First Annual Riverwatch Symposium. My buddy Bruce also leads the URSC’s Riverwatch Monitoring program to monitor my health. And this year, he and Tim put together a poster and presented results from three years of Riverwatch monitoring along with results from this past year’s mussel survey on the river. The presentation showed people in the rest of the state just how healthy and strong (and good-looking) I am!
#1. Duck race 2011. Finally, I had a great time as the co-star (along with 300 rubber racing ducks) of the First Annual Sangamon River Duck Race. I give special thanks to my buddy Dan “Duck” Waldinger for spearheading the effort to make that race a reality. I’m looking forward to seeing even more ducks and more supporters out for the Duck Race during Riverfest 2012.
As 2011 ends and 2012 begins, I’d like to again say a heartfelt ‘thanks’ to everyone who is beginning to see me for what I am: A vital member of this community. I enjoy being a part of it and am basking in my newfound attention. In 2012, make your resolution to come out and visit me often!
Appeared as Notes from the River, Mahomet Citizen, January 11, 2012, by Scott Hays