Extra Eyes on the Illinois River As Business Rises
Officials are hoping for a safe weekend as hundreds head out to float and camp along the Illinois River. Last weekend, the river was at maximum capacity and business owners say business is way up from the past two years.Sparrow Hawk Camp is one location that campsites are filling up fast. Owner Gen Ellis said he has noticed a change even in the past couple of weeks with more people heading to the river. This weekend is expected to be no different, but visitors should be aware of some things."We will start deploying rangers in undercover attire. They will be in kayaks, canoes, and so forth, out on the rivers beginning this weekend," Administrator for the Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Commission, Ed Fite said.This is the second year they have done the undercover rangers."We have a percentage of folks that come to the river that see if they can beat the system, so we take it to their level," Fite said.If you want to drink at the river remember that you can only have 3.2 percent alcohol by weight, no out of state beer or liquor. Fite said some individuals come to the river and all they want to do is drink alcohol and you will be left alone until you start causing problems for other visitors.Some people floating the river admit in the 25 years of coming to float the river, they have been one of those people drinking too much. Now days, the reformed visitors are giving some advice."Start early in the day, when you start early in the day you don't run into as many crazies, and make sure you take a short enough trip that meets your needs if you have small kids," Shauna Buecker, said.The rangers will be out in plain clothes, every weekend from now until the end of the summer. They will be in canoes and kayaks and will reveal their identities if they stop you.