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Casino talk raising fears about Northerly Island

Talk casino Chicago makes many fear for fate Northerly Islgreurban wild space under new Mayor Rahm Emanuel.  |

Talk of a casino in Chicago makes many fear for the fate of Northerly Island, the great urban wild space, under new Mayor Rahm Emanuel. | Dale Bowman~For the Sun-Times

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Updated: June 26, 2011 12:36AM

When talk of an
impending Chicago casino resurfaced last week, I feared for
Northerly Island.

The fear springs from not knowing where Mayor Rahm Emanuel stands on Northerly Island. Former Mayor Richard Daley initiated the great urban wild space when he X’d out the runways of Meigs Field in March 2003.

Northerly Island might be the greatest piece of Chicago outdoors, simply because of the audacity of its birth. It would be a travesty to see it lost to an economic fix.

There are better ways. My hope is that the logistics of moving people in and out of Northerly Island makes other options more viable. A South Side location seems most logical, if a casino ever comes to Chicago.

I am not alone in my fears. A favorite reader, John Vukmirovich, e-mailed: ‘‘Last fall, I wrote asking if you knew if there was a grassroots organization dedicated to watching over Northerly Isle. Perhaps it’s time.’’

The best of the organized defenders is the Grant Park Advisory Council. Friends of the Park also watches out.

‘‘Again, maybe it’s time we start some trouble over Northerly Isle,’’ Vukmirovich followed up. ‘‘I’m half-Serb. We’re great at starting trouble.’’

I’m not sure who should start a grassroots organization to protect Northerly Island — it would need to involve fishermen, birders, paddlers, bicyclists and nature lovers — but I know what it should be called: Harrison Ford’s Five Planes, in honor of the movie star who lipped off after the public wild space was created from the former airport.


The Illinois Department of Natural Resources has set public meetings for June about the upcoming waterfowl seasons. They are especially important because of the possible fourth zone. The northeast Illinois meeting is June 15 at Des Plaines State Fish and Wildlife Area in Wilmington.

Places and faces

The Spertus Institute has added a showing of ‘‘Green Fire: Aldo Leopold and a Land Ethic for Our Time’’ at 5 p.m. June 2. Conversation with Curt Meine follows at 6:15. Registration is free but required. Go to .  .  . Orvis offers free clinics for fly fishermen on weekends through July. Go to After completing the 21/2-hour class, students receive coupons and free membership to Trout Unlimited, said Joseph Meyer, the great fly-fishing teacher now at the Chicago Orvis store. .  .  . Jerry Luehrs of Lansing and his brother John of Manhattan won their third Exelon Nuclear’s ‘‘Fishing for a Cure’’ tournament — and $4,000 — at Braidwood with five keepers weighing 14.38 pounds. Their total was anchored by the big bass (3.84 pounds). A record $38,000 was raised for the Wounded Heroes Foundation.

Stray cast

College football instead of the NFL on Sundays is like a largemouth instead of a smallmouth on the lakefront.

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