Suburban flood waters drown out recreational opportunities

  • The Des Plaines River spilled over its banks and flooded the driving range at Golf Center Des Plaines. Across the suburbs, floodwaters have shut down parks, golf courses, beaches and other recreational amenities.

    The Des Plaines River spilled over its banks and flooded the driving range at Golf Center Des Plaines. Across the suburbs, floodwaters have shut down parks, golf courses, beaches and other recreational amenities. Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

  • This tree fell between the fences of Wing Park Golf Course and the youth baseball field in Elgin. The park was closed all weekend after storms Friday and Sunday afternoons brought more heavy rain.

    This tree fell between the fences of Wing Park Golf Course and the youth baseball field in Elgin. The park was closed all weekend after storms Friday and Sunday afternoons brought more heavy rain. Jim Davis | Staff Photographer

  • New water hazards abound at Golf Center Des Plaines because of flooding from the nearby Des Plaines River.

    New water hazards abound at Golf Center Des Plaines because of flooding from the nearby Des Plaines River. Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

  • A pump removes water from a pond that overflowed its banks and onto the fairways at Wing Park Golf Course in Elgin. The course was closed all weekend after more heavy rains.

    A pump removes water from a pond that overflowed its banks and onto the fairways at Wing Park Golf Course in Elgin. The course was closed all weekend after more heavy rains. Jim Davis | Staff Photographer

  • Bangs Lake in Wauconda is closed to boaters due to flooding and high water.

    Bangs Lake in Wauconda is closed to boaters due to flooding and high water. Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

  • Spring Lake Park beach in Lincolnshire was closed after rising Des Plaines River waters engulfed the park.

    Spring Lake Park beach in Lincolnshire was closed after rising Des Plaines River waters engulfed the park. Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

  • A section of the Des Plaines River Trail in the Half Day Forest Preserve near Lincolnshire was closed by flooding.

    A section of the Des Plaines River Trail in the Half Day Forest Preserve near Lincolnshire was closed by flooding. Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

  • Picnic tables sit underwater as Nippersink Lake in Fox Lake overflowed into Lakefront Park after heavy rains.

    Picnic tables sit underwater as Nippersink Lake in Fox Lake overflowed into Lakefront Park after heavy rains. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  • A picnic area is submerged at Lakefront Park in Fox Lake.

    A picnic area is submerged at Lakefront Park in Fox Lake. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 7/23/2017 5:23 PM

Golfers are legendary for playing even in rain and snow.

But at Golf Center Des Plaines, the recent rains and resulting flooding from the nearby Des Plaines River have created water hazards far beyond what's usually found on the course.

 

"The river is actually running through our (driving) range," said Don Miletic, Des Plaines Park District executive director.

And so, the range and the center's nine-hole course are closed indefinitely.

The saga continued through the weekend. Afternoon storms on Friday and Sunday brought heavy rain and winds gusting up to 70 mph to Elgin, resulting in the weekend closing of popular Wing Park, including its nine-hole golf course.

Elsewhere, many parks, trails and other recreational areas remain at least partially off limits to the public.

Flood-related closures aren't limited to land, either.

Since the storm, recreational watercraft have been either limited or forbidden on the entire 202-mile Fox River, the Chain O' Lakes in Lake and McHenry counties and Wauconda's scenic Bangs Lake.

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Canoeing or kayaking on the swollen Des Plaines River in Lake and Cook counties isn't recommended, either.

"There are hazards such as bridges, trees and debris that paddlers might get snagged on," said Sue Hawkins, spokeswoman for the Lake County Forest Preserve District, which maintains natural sites along the river.

Fishing from the river's banks is permissible, however. That's also the case along the Fox River and at spots in the Chain O' Lakes.

And that may be one small bit of good news.

The deeper-than-usual Fox River and Chain O' Lakes could create a good opportunity to catch fish that have found new places to eat, Fox Waterway Agency Executive Director Joe Keller said.

"A staff member and myself saw a big bass come into our parking lot, which has been a foot under water," he said. "My partner estimated it as a 4-plus pounder."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Still, Keller cautioned against fishing from bridges that are over fast-moving, high water.

"If they slip and fall, they may drown and be found somewhere down river," he said.

All of Lake County's major forest preserves have reopened, but many have trails and other areas that remain under water and closed.

Much of the 31-mile Des Plaines River Trail is off limits, as are all of the trail underpasses, Hawkins said.

So are the trail parking lots at Kilbourne Road near Gurnee and three canoe launches near Gurnee, Libertyville and Wadsworth.

Although the Des Plaines River Trail runs through the Independence Grove Forest Preserve near Libertyville, the preserve's marina and beach are open and concerts will be performed in the Millennia Plaza amphitheater as scheduled, Hawkins said. The next show is 7:30 p.m. Tuesday and features American English, a Beatles tribute band.

Across the county, the Fox River Forest Preserve near Port Barrington is open. But because of the boating ban on the Fox River, no boats can leave the marina or depart from the boat launch.

Hawkins recommends checking the conditions of trails and underpasses online at lcfpd.org/closures before heading out. She also urges visitors to follow trail signs and use caution around closures, repairs and detour zones.

The flooding has affected outdoor activities in several suburbs.

The Algonquin Founders' Days Festival, set to run July 27-30, was canceled Saturday so that the village's public works employees and first responders can focus on flood recovery efforts.

Algonquin officials also canceled a pair of outdoor concerts, including one scheduled for this past Thursday night, because of flooding at Riverfront Park.

The Batavia Park District has temporarily ceased renting paddleboats for use on Depot Pond, a man-made attraction fed by the Fox River.

"Even though the Depot Pond does not have swift-moving water, the current water level is proving to be difficult … especially during the loading and unloading of patrons," said Eric Lacher, the district's director of parks and properties.

In Lincolnshire, the beach and swimming area at Spring Lake Park was closed due to concerns about water quality. Both flooded when the Des Plaines River overflowed its banks.

Once the Lake County Health Department says the water is safe, it will reopen. Meanwhile, a playground and other amenities at Spring Lake Park are usable.

Elsewhere in Lincolnshire, the Rivershire Park and Nature Center is closed because the roads to the site are flooded.

Most of the marinas, bars and restaurants along the Fox River and Chain O' Lakes have been closed since the big storm, the Fox Waterway Agency's Keller said.

That includes the legendary Blarney Island near Antioch, which is promising on its website to reopen and resume an entertainment schedule "once the water comes down."

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