In a matter of weeks, thousands of angry people convince the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to reconsider a tubing fee on rivers. Harsh criticism surrounds the $6 fee, and that could lead to its end.
The message was clear, the numbers were strong and the voices were heard. Hayley Blackburn started the petition on change.org, determined to get the $6 tubing fee eliminated.
"I've always grown up in Illinois and my family has always been a little bit poor so we've always turned to the river for our big family get together's because it was the cheapest thing to do around Rockford," said Blackburn.
Along with 15,000 likes on Facebook against the fee, lawmakers say the DNR is getting the message.
"Talking to DNR officials today I find out they're now reconsidering that fee," said Sen. Steve Stadelman.
Stadelman didn't take office until after lawmakers approved the fee, and he says he understands why so many people are upset over it.
"Taxing inner tubes seems to be pretty excessive," he said.
State Representative Jim Sacia says he didn't like the idea of charging people $6 to use the river either. But he approved the measure for a key reason.
"I understand the anger, I understand the frustration but like anything in life there's two sides to the equation,
"We always need to do whatever we can to ensure our infrastructure is taken care of and this truly is an infrastructure issue." said Sacia.
The DNR has struggled to bring in revenue given the state's financial crisis. Sacia says he worries about the future of keeping our parks beautiful without proper funding. Still others say it should find that funding source elsewhere.
Some DNR leaders say they are not aware of a reconsideration of the fee. However, they add they're not surprised. The group is already being lenient and not ticketing tubes without tags. That leniency may continue throughout the summer.
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