Illinois Requires New "Paddle Pass" For Non-Motorized Watercraft - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Illinois Requires New "Paddle Pass" For Non-Motorized Watercraft

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     A lot of people are taking advantage of area waterways in this heat, but in Illinois there's a new regulation you'll want to know about involving non-motorized vessels. It just went into effect July 1st and DNR offices are getting a lot of questions on the new rules.     

     Now, a "paddle pass" sticker is required on any non-powered kayak, canoe, paddleboat, or inner tube being used as a mode of transportation on public waters. It's fairly inexpensive but the change caught some people off guard.

     Steve Stoudt and his daughter were out on the pontoon on the Rock River near Sterling Thursday, but every once and a while he says he gets down the river in a different way. "WeI tie a few rafts together, cooler or two and just float for hours," he said.

     Now, that's going to require a $6 water usage stamp for every raft or inner tube used to get from point A to point B on Illinois waters or he'll face a $120 fine. "Like us we have 10, 15, 20 people and that can add up," added Stoudt.

     It's new territory for inner tube use, but for other non-powered watercraft like kayaks and row boats this actually replaces having to get titles and registration in Illinois.

     "It started out as a streamlining process in order to make it a lot easier for the public and for us," said Conservation Officer Robert Frazier. Revenue from the paddle pass sticker goes back to the DNR in hopes to recoup what cutbacks took in recent years.

     "We took a lot of hits there and never really overcome that. This is the ability for us to try to move ahead, hire more people," added Frazier.

      There are some exemptions. Anything pulled behind a boat or tied off to a boat that is anchored does not need a sticker. Right now, DNR officers say they're allowing a grace period to educate the public and work out the kinks.

     "We're currently experiencing some problems with the adhesive sticking on the boat. If somebody is having a problem with that we ask you just put it in a bag and make sure you have it with them," said Frazier.

      Another requirement now with tubes and other non-motorized watercraft is a life jacket for each person. Anyone 13 and younger must be wearing it at all times.

      Any watercraft with a motor or sail does still need a title and registration. Out of state vessels are not exempt from the paddle pass sticker. It can be picked up at any place that sells hunting and fishing licenses.