Category Archives: Announcements

Might get a Little Annoying for Some

Over the next week I’ll be putting up around 40 posts. These are the ones I put up on my ChicagoNow blog starting back in September.

I no longer have the time or inclination to spread myself so thin, so there’s no real reason to keep anything over there any more. I can’t see myself getting into a daily writing routine, hell, I can barely do one a week lately. So may as well give up on it.

As I put them up here I won’t let them notify anyone that subscribes via email. Problem is, I have no clue how others may get notices of new posts, so for them, you might get flooded with a few notices.

Sorry about that.

Hopefully I’ll get this done quickly, it eats into my fishing time.

Introducing Quill Gordon’s Story Time

I like to read well written short stories about the outdoors. The specific topic is unimportant, as long as it is well written. My bookshelf is stuffed with books of short story collections either by individual writers or a collection of writers writing about specific types of outdoor adventures.

If you go looking for stories like this in any of the half dozen or more outdoor magazines that focus on Illinois, you’ll be looking in vain. Those magazines will be filled with product reviews and how-to’s that are peppered with the dropped names of advertisers in the magazines. I understand this, you have to pay the bills somehow. Plus they cater to the majority of outdoorsmen that find a well written story, as I was once told, too flowery for them.

The problem is that the product reviews and how-to’s get boring really fast. Still more gear you probably don’t need. Still another article on how to vertically jig a ledge in 30 feet of water or how to best maintain your deer stand. After you read one of those once, there’s no reason to go read a similar one in another magazine and there’s really no reason to read one again the next year.

Because of my penchant for the well written story, I’ve whittled down my magazine subscriptions to just one, Gray’s Sporting Journal. Of the printed magazines, Gray’s is hard to beat for it’s quality writing.

Luckily there’s the internet. Over the years I’ve found numerous good outdoor writers that only appear online. With the increase in blogging over the last few years, it takes some searching, but you can find some truly incredible writing by authors that appear nowhere else.

A couple of years ago I came across Quill Gordon and his blog The View from Fish in a Barrel Pond. Quill Gordon, the pen name for one Ken Hall, produces some of the best outdoor related short stories that I’ve found on the internet. Quill/Ken is the caretaker of a fishing camp somewhere in Vermont that he calls The Neverwas Nonesuch Angling Society. His short stories are filled with characters that visit the camp during the fishing season, as well as some of the local characters that live around there year round.

Like any good yarn told over a few beers, there’s a thin line between fact and fiction. You know you’re being told a story, you know it’s beyond belief, but it’s being told so well that at the end, you sit there scratching your head, laughing and thinking, well, maybe.

That’s the way Quill, I mean Ken, writes.

And now he’s writing new stories and rewriting archived stories for new uses. He’s recently started releasing his short stories for the Kindle and Nook e-readers. I highly recommend that if you like good story telling regardless of the subject matter, you should check these out.

You can find the details for his e-reader releases on his blog.

The View from Fish in a Barrel Pond

If nothing else, bookmark his blog, subscribe to it in your favorite feed and go back into his archives now and then.

It will be time well spent.

Swimming upstream faster than the current… (part 1)

Over the last couple of days, Illinois Department of Natural Resources Director Marc Miller has sent out a couple of email that reads like a State of the Union address for the DNR and goes into some detail about the recently passed DNR Sustainability Bill.

This link is in the following letter from Marc Miller, but in case you don’t think the IDNR has any effect on your life, you may want to go read this first:

Did You Know? DNR Facts and Figures

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Dear DNR constituent:

The passage of the DNR Sustainability Bill (SB1566) is a significant victory for conservation and the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). What the bill does is allow the agency to keep state parks and sites open and begin to address a backlog of needed facility repairs, which now totals $750 million. It also allows us to address other program problems for the agency.

The bill took nearly a year to negotiate and included over 40 DNR constituent groups in talks, who worked with sponsor Rep. Frank Mautino for a consensus bill. A key component and big “win” for conservation included in the bill was the rarely used anti-sweeps language that ensures funds would not be used for other purposes than keeping state parks open and programs working. Governor Pat Quinn’s management and budget director also signed a letter committing to not sweep these funds and hold DNR’s funding level.

This level of commitment to DNR should not be a surprise. During Governor Quinn’s first week on the job and my first day on the job as Director, he signed a different bill that replaced diverted sportsmen’s funds that were swept by our predecessors. We have been working diligently ever since to protect these funds and use them for conservation.

The Sustainability Bill will take effect as law on January 1st, and we project that eventually it will provide DNR with an estimated $30 to $33 million dollars annually to be deposited into dedicated funds connected with each revenue source. There are several steps that the agency needs to take start collecting funds, such as creating rules and regulations and implementing IT infrastructure, and it will be 9 to 12 months before the agency begins to receive the new funding.

I would like to thank those organizations who supported the Sustainability Bill, negotiated its details, and worked for its passage. It is our intent to work as quickly as possible to take the necessary steps to capture new revenues and apply these funds to DNR parks and programs, create new jobs and promote economic development, and to restructure DNR for future generations.

We will uphold our mission of managing the state’s natural resources and begin to repair some of the past neglect from budget cuts. DNR constituents need to understand, however, that victory could be temporary because the state’s budget problems will threaten our progress in the near future. Pension obligations and unpaid bills squeeze agencies like DNR and make General Revenue funds less available for everyday operations. If lawmakers do not act to address the pension squeeze, then everyone’s hard work towards DNR sustainability will be erased by these larger fiscal problems.

Our success at the legislature is one step towards sustainability and demonstrates that we are swimming upstream faster than the current. Stay tuned and I will explain in a second email how you can help DNR and secure the progress we have already made.

Yours in conservation,
Marc Miller, Director
Illinois DNR

More Things to do, Places to go

With the coming of the fall season, my last post was about Things to do, Places to go that are close to the Chicago area. This one branches out further, but there are still more things to do and places to go in the northern third of Illinois.

If you live in or near Chicago, fall can be deceiving. The dome of warmer air over Lake Michigan keeps you a little warmer this time of year, though it may not feel all that warm. Out my way, 15 miles southwest of Aurora, we’ve already had a few frosts with one of them being pretty heavy. The trees are responding accordingly.

On a recent walk around Silver Springs State Fish and Wildlife Area, it’s changing to fall. The lush green of the trees has started to fade. Yellows are beginning to appear. Some of the maples are getting a hint of gold and red.

I have no clue how the drought and dry weather will affect the fall colors, but there is always color. For the next three weekends, possibly four, it would be worth your while to do some exploring. Get out for a walk. Bring your camera and see what you can capture.

At the top is a tab called blogroll and if you go there you’ll see lists and links for a number of county forest preserves and park districts. These alone would keep you busy in your wanderings. There are a number of gems among these listings. You would never think taking a hike along Salt Creek in DuPage and Cook Counties would be worth your while, but look for anything that is up or down stream of York Road in Hinsdale. A fall hike through here would be time well spent.

For those willing to do a little traveling, following is a list of some of my personal favorites. Some I haven’t been to in years, while others are visited frequently. All are worth the effort. If you decide to do some traveling, do some research ahead of time. It’s well worth making a day of it and taking the back roads to these destinations. Small towns worth visiting, occasional farm stands worth a stop and you’ll even get to see some harvesting going on. That always fascinates me. If you stick around till sunset, all that dust being kicked up by the harvest turns the sunset into beautiful shades of gold.

Apple River Canyon State Park
Apple River Canyon State Park is my all time favorite. It’s a gem of a park that will make you wonder if you’re actually in Illinois. The ride out there alone is worth it.

Buffalo Rock State Park and Effigy Tumuli

Castle Rock State Park

Illinois and Michigan Canal State Trail
You’ll notice the I&M Canal State Trail is pretty extensive. I’ve wandered the trail where it cuts through Morris as well as many miles of the trail much further east. Nice leisurely walk on usually paved trails.

Kankakee River State Park
When you get to Kankakee River State Park, there’s another long trail on the opposite side of the river. No amenities there, but worth the hike.

Matthiessen State Park
My wife and I went out to Starved Rock State Park one time and didn’t feel like dealing with the crowds. Just down the road is Matthiesssen State Park. We enjoyed this park much more.

Mississippi Palisades State Park
The Palisades are gorgeous. If nothing else, go here.

Rock Cut State Park

Silver Springs State Fish and Wildlife Area

Starved Rock State Park

White Pines Forest State Park
I think the first time I went to White Pines was when I was 12, about 44 years ago. Still as beautiful as I remembered it and worth hiking along the bluff overlooking the creek.
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There are plenty of other state parks in the northern third of Illinois. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources website does a pretty good job of listing them all. Most I know nothing about, you can only go to so many, so you may have to do your own research.

State Parks in the northeast region of Illinois

State Parks in the northwest region of Illinois

With all this information on where to go this fall, it should be relatively easy to find one place you like. Why travel to Michigan or Wisconsin for fall colors. There are plenty of fall colors to enjoy within a short drive, right here in Illinois.

So, Where ya Been?

After a six month hiatus at ChicagoNow back in 2012, I went back to it in September 2012. Now eight months later, I’m wrapping it up and leaving again. This post makes no real sense from that standpoint, but I like what I had to say. The Too Much Info disease is still in place, but I no longer even care if my Give a Shitter is broke. That’s the epitome of not giving a shit, I guess.

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Back in February I put up a post here on ChicagoNow and then promptly let the powers that be know that I was done.

A week later I quit writing for a monthly Illinois outdoor magazine.

Around that time I told Dale Bowman, outdoor writer for the Chicago Sun Times, that I was done sending him fishing reports. Something I had been doing weekly for a dozen years. (That didn’t last. No one consistently sent him anything about the Fox River and since I was out fishing anyway, I may as well keep sending him something. He’s been good to me so it was the least I could do).

I then quit sending anything to an online magazine I got involved with.

Then, one day, Facebook unsubscribed me from 95% of the people that “Liked” me. I have no clue how or why that happened and tried to fix it, but failed. A week later, I fired up Facebook and instead of the 50 to 100 daily status updates, I had three. And they were from family.

I decided I liked it that way.

Then at the end of May, I decided to cut back on the amount of posts I was putting up on my own blog. Only put up 20 in the last three and a half months. Only three in July. In 15 years of putting things up on the internet, that was the least amount I’ve ever put up in a three month period.

And I liked it.

It then dawned on me that I was suffering from a severe case of Too Much Info Disease. I was trying to take in too much as well as contributing to the malady.

And then my Give a Shitter broke.

I slowly eliminated 95% of the blogs and writers I used to read.

And it felt good.

Now, I feel much better. I no longer feel the need to inundate myself with, well, everything.

And my Give a Shitter is slowly repairing itself.

So I decided to slowly start making a comeback here on ChicagoNow. I always liked it here.

I’m looking forward to starting over. A little rested, mind clearer, hopefully with something interesting to say and a new improved Give a Shitter.

Until I get rolling and consistently put something up, here’s a picture of a big fish being held by one ugly fisherman…