The Chain O'Lakes State Park north of Chicago in Spring Grove, Illinois is a beautiful facility and it may well be the only place that boaters can launch their crafts for free on the Fox Lake Chain. This results in crowds most any weekend at the launch lanes at the park as boaters are preparing their boats to launch at the same time others want to get their boats out of the water. Over the 4th of July Weekend boaters got no help from Conservation Police. In fact the only Conservation Police visible this weekend were hiding in the grasslands and trees apparently running radar.

Meanwhile, it was anything goes at the Marina. Unfortunately, there are no posted regulations at the docks so without a police presence on busy weekends, gridlock of boats and trailers is commonplace. After many seasons at the park I've witnessed boaters arguing and on more than one occasion boaters without guidance or rules for how things should work at the docks were ready to fight.

On those rare occasions when there are police present some do little besides direct traffic. Others actually get involved at the dock and help boaters and advise those without their trailers ready that they are not to block the lanes. The majority of boaters follow the unwritten rule of common courtesy and when they are ready to leave the lake for the day, park their boat to the side and then go to the parking lot and get their trailers. However, it only takes a few idiots to create gridlock.

Four boaters can pull up in a moment's notice and block the four lanes available for those coming and going. While they saunter out to the parking lot to get their trailers sometimes half a dozen boaters have lined up to launch their boats. The result is gridlock. Those needing to trailer their boats to leave can't get to the lanes because of the incoming boats and those wanting to go out on the water can't get to an open lane either.

Boaters pay big bucks to use the waterways at the Chain. All boaters must pay an access fee to be on the Chain O'Lakes waterways at all times. This source of revenue no doubt surpasses all other sources of park revenue in the state of Illinoiis.

When boaters block the flow of boat traffic often they simply don't know any better. If you are used to boating in rural lakes with little traffic this would never have been a problem. But at the Chain O'Lakes, which may well be the busiest inland waterway in the US, boaters need help from park officials. Unfortunately, over the 4th of July weekend the Conservation Police were not at the docks where they were needed but instead were sitting in their cars running radar.