Registering Canoes in Illinois Discussion

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Registering Canoes in Illinois Discussion

Postby zelph » Tue May 29, 2012 12:26 am

Recent thread brought up question on why register canoes.

Canoe and Kayak Registration in Illinois

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lou Post subject: Canoe and Kayak Registration in IllinoisPosted: Sun Jul 02, 2006 10:19 am

Joined: Tue Sep 06, 2005 5:57 am
Posts: 16 I am in the process of licensing one more of my 3 canoes. Each time I go through the process I doubt the benefits of licensing for owners of canoes and kayaks. I see very little tangible evidence that this is benefitting these owners in terms of access sites on rivers and streams, navigability (trespass) issues in Illinois, etc. Registration of canoes and kayaks is not required by some of our neighboring states. And in fact, many of us paddle more out of state than within the borders of Illinois. My newest boat is designed for whitewater. There is one whitewater river in Illinois.

What is the benefit of this requirement to me? Is this something that I need to visit with my state representatives? In times of budget stress when some key positions within the IDNR have been eliminated, does it make sense for the DNR to have staff people processing canoe and kayak registrations? Besides keeping some person busy in Springfield, what does that sticker get me or do for the sport in Illinois? If you have some evidence that you are seeing some benefits in NE Illinois, let me know, cause I sure don't see it in central Illinois.


Bill Kessler Post subject: Posted: Sun Jul 02, 2006 7:02 pm

Joined: Sun Feb 27, 2005 6:48 pm
Posts: 32 The fees to registered paddle craft are very minimal, something like $13 first time, for three years, and $6 for three years after that. The state of Illinois has installed canoe launches on state land on many streams and lakes. It is my understanding that these sites cost much than the total fees collected from paddlers and are being subsidized by the heftier fees collected from the power boaters. This bears checking out, perhaps from IPC, before we make noise. Might backfire.

Bill Kessler


lou Post subject: RegistrationPosted: Mon Jul 03, 2006 6:31 am

Joined: Tue Sep 06, 2005 5:57 am
Posts: 16 Bill, thank you for your response to my post.

I agree, the fees are minimal. I am not griping about the cost to me. But, I doubt if the money taken in by the state is even paying for the administrative expenses in Springfield. Judging by the long delay between my application and receipt of the sticker, this is not a high priority with them. As with many bureaucracies, you can bet that much of your registration fee is staying in Springfield. (Now maybe you can get Denny Hastert to start buying up some river frontage and getting some earmarks for access sites.)

In central Illinois, I know of canoe launches and parking areas on the Mackinaw and Middle Fork of the Vermillion rivers. The construction and maintenance costs of these sites do not appear to be large and are tangential to the operations of the state fish and wildlife areas or parks. If power boaters are subsidizing the construction of these facilities, more power to them, but my guess is that the fees on hunters, fishermen, and campers, and general taxpayers who do not use the facilities at all are contributing more to the operation of these canoe launches.

Should the owners of 6 foot long whitewater kayaks be required to sticker their boats? Should the owner of a dinged up aluminum canoe that sees action only on a local creek during the fourth of july weekend have to register their boats? Should IDNR conservation officers be bothering to check canoe registrations?

Finally, what could be the potential blowback from raising our voices about registering paddle sport boats?

(If there are two replys here from me, one of them got "lost" for a while and I gave up on it being posted).


Steve LaPorte Post subject: Posted: Mon Jul 03, 2006 2:43 pm

Joined: Fri Mar 04, 2005 6:45 am
Posts: 14 Lou,

Insofar as paddlers are concerned, I agree that our registration fee is probably not a cost effective way for the State to raise funds; power boater’s higher fees are a little more cost-effective. I’m sure that canoes and kayaks were included, albeit at a much more reasonable rate, simply because it would cause less trouble to include them than it would to exclude them. (Can you imagine how sailors would feel about having to pay if paddlers didn’t?)

I suspect, however, that another reason for registration is the collection of sales tax. If boats did not have to be registered, nothing would prevent people from purchasing their boats in a state that does not charge sales tax. In the case of a canoe that might amount to $50 to $100; in the case of a big cabin cruiser it could be thousands of dollars. In these lean days, the State can ill afford to lose that kind of revenue.

My own feeling on this is that I can afford the two dollars per year. I pick my fights more carefully than that.

Steve LaPorte


lou Post subject: You identified it.Posted: Mon Jul 03, 2006 4:21 pm

Joined: Tue Sep 06, 2005 5:57 am
Posts: 16 Steve,

I think you are right about the real motive behind this registration fee -- the collection of sales taxes. But, considering the enormous amounts of sales taxes that the state loses out on from not collecting on all internet sales, this is really extremely small potatoes.

Still I do not put paddle boats in the same category as sailboats and cabin cruisers. This is kind of like equating bicycles with motorcycles, automobiles and trucks. It would be very easy for the state to drop canoes and kayaks out of the boat category and still collect on all power boats (including canoes with motors) and sailboats. I seriously doubt that we would hear the owners of $50,000 sailboats or cruisers griping because of slacker canoers and kayakers. And when was the last time you registered your bicycle with the state? And you can bet many owners of those $2500 mountain bikes and road bikes did not purchase them in state.

You are correct about choosing your battles. I am not about to make this my last stand. I have gone to Springfield with much greater concerns, got a bit of interest in them from my legislators and then had them just completely deep sixed. Unless a concerted effort is made by a large organized interest group, it is very unlikely that a few voices would be heard no matter how just or valid the cause.


Lora Post subject: Posted: Sat Oct 07, 2006 9:20 am

Joined: Sat Oct 07, 2006 9:02 am
Posts: 3 You have to register your canoe and kayak in Illinois?????? I am from TN and we do not have to do that here. But I am thinking about moving to Illinois to be closer to family...I did not know you had to register....hmmmmm what happens if you dont?


Lora Post subject: Posted: Sat Oct 07, 2006 9:21 am

Joined: Sat Oct 07, 2006 9:02 am
Posts: 3 You have to register your canoe and kayak in Illinois?????? I am from TN and we do not have to do that here. But I am thinking about moving to Illinois to be closer to family...I did not know you had to register....hmmmmm what happens if you dont?


Steve LaPorte Post subject: Posted: Sun Oct 08, 2006 7:42 am

Joined: Fri Mar 04, 2005 6:45 am
Posts: 14 Lora,

If you are caught with an unregistered boat in the water, you will be given a citation. The last time I heard, the fine was $75.00, but it may have gone up since I last heard. It used to be very rare that anyone got caught, but it’s happening a little more frequently now. (It’s still unusual, but it happens.)

A registration sticker costs $6.00 and is good for three years. If I can afford the gasoline to drive to the rivers I paddle, I can afford the two dollars per year. (You will have to go thirty-seven years without getting caught to save money by not registering your boat.)

Take care.

Steve LaPorte


lou Post subject: LoraPosted: Mon Oct 09, 2006 7:38 am

Joined: Tue Sep 06, 2005 5:57 am
Posts: 16 Thanks for asking this obvious question -- why register canoes and kayaks in Illinois?

It will cost you $13 per boat for the first registration. Then plan to wait 3 months to receive your sticker. Be sure you include all the necessary documentation -- bill of sale and registration in the state of origin. After waiting 3 months I just received my application and check that was returned because I did not include the Indiana registration info (Indiana does not register canoes)and a bill of sale from the previous owner. This is total mickey mouse, bureaucratic BS! Bottom line, this WW boat ain't getting registered in Illinois. I paddle it so seldom in state that I will take my chances.

I heard that when the registration legislation was first proposed in Illinois a large, organized group of paddlers testified against the pending legislation in the state capitol. The will of the paddling community was overruled. I attempted to start a discussion among Illinois paddlers about this nonsensical requirement but there does not seem to be much appetite for it. So buy yourself a little insurance against a fine and go along with the system. Welcome to Illinois!


Paul Klonowski Post subject: Registering canoes & kayaks...Posted: Wed Oct 18, 2006 11:05 pm

Joined: Tue Apr 19, 2005 7:42 am
Posts: 35 Yes, the cost of registering cnaoes & kayaks in Illinois is minimal -- and doing the paperwork "Right enough to get it through the system" is a pain in the backside -- and yes, it costs the DNR more to process the paperwork and to cash the check than they actually get from the check.

But it's still less painful and less silly than getting that $75 fine for not registering. Also realize that the way the DNR distributes money for access projects (launches) is based on how many boats are in an area. Over the last several years, the Chicago metro area has gotten quite a few canoe launches built, in part with DNR funds, due to the number of canoes & kayaks that are registered... it's the best bang for your tax buck that you're ever going to see, if I can steal a quote from Gary Mechanic.

We have 3 canoes & 3 kayaks at our house; 4 were purchased out of state, and one canoe will not be restored to "seaworthy" status for a few years yet. But they're all registered, for one reason... Access! That $4.33 for each of the first three years convinced the DNR to help fund a canoe launch at Grand Ave on the Des Plaines River, which cost over $40,000.

I think that $4.33 was well spent...

But you got your stickers in only 3 months? When I sent in the paperwork for my daughter's kayak, it was 5 months... you must be special!
Paul K


lou Post subject: PaulPosted: Sat Oct 21, 2006 7:06 am

Joined: Tue Sep 06, 2005 5:57 am
Posts: 16 Points well taken. If I lived in NE IL I would buy your argument. But downstate, we don't buy access. Access is much more of a property rights issue here and given the agricultural interests of downstate, that fact is not going to change no matter how screwed up the stream navigability laws.

There are only a couple of rivers in central IL where the numbers of paddlers might justify the DNR spending $40,000 for a boat launch. These areas are already developed with the major portion invested in roads and parking.

I do have two boats registered in IL. I don't think I was advising anyone not to register their boats, but I don't expect I will ever see any tangible benefits myself. Likewise, as a hunter, I won't be seeing any benefits from the DNR's spending $50 freaking million on the World Shooting Complex either. Part of living in Illinois is developing an appreciation for the ridiculous. If my taxes and fees help buy you some happiness and vice versa, it is all part of the communal bargain. And those aren't boat racks on top of those hearses.


Paul Klonowski Post subject: RegistrationPosted: Sat Oct 21, 2006 8:28 am

Joined: Tue Apr 19, 2005 7:42 am
Posts: 35 Excellent point about Downstate... the Illinois Paddling Council has always tried to include Downstate in its efforts, including for its Access Project, but with little success. Part of that is probably due to low-level participation in IPC's various efforts from Downstaters, which is probably due to the fact that most IPCers are Upstaters, so the meetings are held upstate... a self-fulfilling shortcoming, indeed, but I'm not sure how we can address that. We're all ears, if you have any ideas!

But all is not lost. Joe Ginger and Lee Butler have been successful in getting the Pecatonica Water Trail established, working across several jurisdictions in & around Stephenson County. I think it took a lot of talking with local authorities & going to many meetings, but it can be done.

Guess I forgot to include that the $40,000 canoe launch had to be specially engineered to be handicap accessible -- it's steep. That extra engineering & construction cost more than half of the total bill; most launches should cost a whole lot less than that.

But the legal rights to launch are a different, and usually much bigger, animal; that's where the meetings with local authorities come into play. Visit
and go to the Access Project page, for some ideas for getting an effort going. I did that 3 or 4 years ago, and found the information & ideas quite helpful in dealing with the Lake County Forest Preserve, to get access to lakes in their system. We have one lake where we can paddle now, and are still working on more...


ErikS Post subject: the history of human powered boat registration in IllinoisPosted: Mon Oct 30, 2006 11:28 pm

Joined: Sat Feb 25, 2006 11:38 pm
Posts: 4 Since this thread pertains to boat registration in Illinois, copied below is my post to Lou's slightly different original question on the Illinois Paddling message board ( ).

It should be understood now that an extraordinary effort was made almost 20 years ago to rescind the registration requirement for canoes and kayaks. Given the outcome of that effort, it would be hard to expect that a similar effort now or in the future would yield a different result............

The short summary/history of boat registration for canoes and kayaks in Illinois is this:
-- the DNR passed a law (1987?) aimed at stiffening penalties for drunk power boating in Illinois in response to several fatalities, and tacked on to that bill/law the registration requirements for canoes and kayaks - without having solicited input from those affected by this legislation
-- paddlers started letter-writing campaigns, and pulled together to start a more coordinated fight against this law.
-- paddlers got local legislators to introduce bills in both the House and Senate to rescind the registration requirement for canoes and kayaks.
-- paddlers met with the DNR in Springfield, and also testifed at committee hearings that are part of the legislative process.
-- the DNR introduced several bills to try to defuse the sense of outrage, and to fragment the opposition. These bills relaxed requirements for non-profits, and did away with the requirement for three inch numbers in addition to the sticker.
-- a paddler sponsored bill that would have exempted human powered watercraft from the registration requirements passed the House and Senate by solid margins
-- Governor Thompson vetoed the paddler-sponsored bill, while signing into law the DNR bill
-- a vote to override the Governor's veto fell short of the two thirds majority needed.

Along the way, a handful of us made a number of trips to Springfield, hooked up with a lobbyist who was eager to represent Illinois paddlers (though that association fell apart when we could not pay him), did our own lobbying before some of the bill votes, and learned a lot about the legislative process.

We saw no pros in the law, and our main objections were:
- paddlers had no input in writing the law that was to affect us, i.e, 'taxation without representation'
- that the DNR was planning on putting the funds generated into the general coffers, rather than agreeing to return funding for paddling-specific expenditures

This happened in 87-88, when I was president of the Chicago Whitewater Association. The above is written from recall, and I could probably substantiate the above comments with details from my files.

Play Hard,
Erik Sprenne


Paul Klonowski Post subject: RegistrationPosted: Tue Oct 31, 2006 7:28 am

Joined: Tue Apr 19, 2005 7:42 am
Posts: 35 Erik,

Thank you for the historical perspective! It makes me wonder, though... with the phenomenal growth of paddlesports of the last few years, would we have enough pull to rescind that statute now? Given the State's fiscal difficulties, if we bring it to the attention of the press, that they collect less than it costs them to cash the checks... but then they'd probably raise the fees. But I wonder....


ErikS Post subject: It's not that black and whitePosted: Wed Nov 01, 2006 12:28 am

Joined: Sat Feb 25, 2006 11:38 pm
Posts: 4 Quote:
......if we bring it to the attention of the press, that they collect less than it costs them to cash the checks...

Understand that one of the reasons for registering canoes and kayaks in the first place was to get additional federal funding that is based on the number of registered boats in the State, the picture becomes more complex.

We also thought it funny in '88 that the DNR told us that they would not need to hire additional staff to process the canoe and kayak registrations. Simple math based on the DNR's own estimate of the number of human powered boats that would be registered in IL suggested that a full time staffer would be needed for about three quarters of a year to process canoe/kayak registrations......

I'm certainly willing to share my files with anyone who feels up to trying again to rescind this law, but realistically can't see it happening, given that part of the annual DNR budget for the last 18-19 years has come from federal funding that is based on the number of registered canoes and kayaks in the state.

Gotta wonder if the DNR would share with the paddling community their annual income directly from registered canoes/kayaks and also from federal dollars gained therefrom?

(as before, the above written from memory.....)

Play Hard,

Last edited by ErikS on Mon Nov 13, 2006 10:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.


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Re: Registering Canoes in Illinois Discussion

Postby ConnieD » Tue May 29, 2012 10:54 am

I think the complaints about how is the fee used are legitimate complaints.

For example, I recently contributed to a save-the-river organization, in Oregon, when I was there.

I volunteered for their fund raising event and I purchased a brand new Oregon license for putting my kayak in the water. I lost track of the paper, so I planned to volunteer for traffic control or the parking lot.

I arrived, scheduled to work in traffic control or the parking lot.

A particularly BAD ATTITUDE lady acted like the "thought police" in case you are thinking of puttiing that boat in the water. No, the boat was on my vehicle because I won't leave it in the yard so no one can steal it, I said.

She practically followed me around, while I picked up my instructions what they wanted done with the cars entering out at the front of the public park. I will never volunteer there again.

I will never re-purchase the paper (no record where sold, at REI) and I will never put a boat in Oregon water.

It was a small fee, but THESE are NASTY people!

Not only that, I didn't see anything whatsoever considered to be done to clean up the Tualatin River. Usually groups organize days to pick up trash. This river had trash. Worse, this river has raw sewage flowing in, in town. One person said that is decaying leaves. No it isn't. It is raw sewage from sewer pipes.

That water was too dirty to put my kayak in that water. I won't put my carbon fiber paddle in sewer water.

All they seemed to concern themselves about was the agriculture further up the river. It was "as if" they wanted to attack Willamette Valley farming, which is for the most part organic farming, orchards and nursery trees for orchards.

I happily pay for the Conservation Permit, in Montana. I wash my boat with soap and water to prevent transferring disease from one put-in to another put-in (whirling disease). I even purchase a boating permit on the Blackfeet Reservation.

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Re: Registering Canoes in Illinois Discussion

Postby zelph » Tue May 29, 2012 2:22 pm

One bad apple can spoil the whole barrel full of apples.

I'm ok with small fees but not ok with bad apples :mrgreen:

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Re: Registering Canoes in Illinois Discussion

Postby thjufgiris » Wed Apr 17, 2013 3:30 am

This is not my field. But interested in it.
To love is to admire with the heart; to admire is to love with the mind. I think so.

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Re: Registering Canoes in Illinois Discussion

Postby zelph » Wed Apr 17, 2013 4:40 pm

thjufgiris wrote:This is not my field. But interested in it.

What field are you in?

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