Legislators advance Rock River Initiative
MADISON A bill designating a scenic route along the Rock River cleared both houses of the state Legislature on Thursday with broad bipartisan support.
“The Rock River is a tremendous natural resource and economic resource,” said Sen. Tim Cullen, D-Janesville. “The Rock River initiative will raise the profile of the river as a recreation destination.
“We want more local people and visitors to enjoy the river. That will mean more tourism spending at restaurants, gas stations, hotels, bike shops, sporting goods shops and other businesses along the river corridor.”
Cullen was the lead author of the bill, which now goes to Gov. Scott Walker.
Several area legislators co-sponsored the bill, including Reps. John Jagler, R-Watertown; Deb Kolste, D-Janesville; Andy Jorgensen, D-Fort Atkinson; Janis Ringhand, D-Evansville, and Amy Loudenbeck, R-Clinton. Sens. Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, and Neal Kedzie, R-Elkhorn, also are co-sponsors.
The Rock River Trail was founded in 2010 by river enthusiasts in Wisconsin and Illinois who felt the Rock was under-used and under-appreciated. The driving route starts at the river’s headwaters near the Horicon Marsh in Fond du Lac County and winds southward through southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois, where it flows into the Mississippi River at Rock Island, Ill.
The driving route is part of a three-pronged approach to encourage more recreational use of the river and to attract more tourism. The first prong was designating a water route for paddlers, boaters, anglers, and others showing access points and portage points. The second is the driving route. The third will be a biking and hiking route.
Promotional material will highlight points of interest such as natural areas, historic sites and local attractions.
Signage for the paddling, driving and biking routes will eventually be installed in both Wisconsin and Illinois.