- Associated Press - Friday, May 6, 2016

EFFINGHAM, Ill. (AP) - Lake Sara is more than motorboats swooshing past upscale lakefront homes. There are quiet backwaters with sunning turtles and browsing avian raptors.

Now, with the opening of a launch site for kayaks or canoes, that Lake Sara is more accessible.

Lake advocates and Summit Township board members gathered Wednesday morning to cut the ribbon for the launch site. In keeping with the natural theme, the “ribbon” was actually grapevine that took a few swipes to cut.

Tom Ryan, a member of the lake’s Parks and Recreation Committee, said the launch area - which is downhill from the Summit Township hall - solves a problem that nature-minded folk have had for years.

“The west end is a fantastic natural resource, but there wasn’t a short easy access to get there,” Ryan said.

The Effingham Water Authority, which owns Lake Sara, and Summit Township entered into a joint agreement to create the launch site.

Township Supervisor Lloyd Foster said it was just a matter of allowing kayakers and canoeists to use the trail that leads down to the lake from the township building.

“They came and approached us and the board agreed to let them have a spot,” Foster said.

Ryan said the west end of the lake, which has never been developed, is full of natural wonders. The bird watcher can spot ospreys, eagles, kingfishers, and blue herons, while those more interested in reptiles can find turtles sunning themselves on downed tree limbs or sandbars, particularly in one of the many sheltered coves. Those cruising the west end in warmer weather may also find a North American water snake, a non-venomous critter that is often mistaken for the poisonous cottonmouth.

There are also signs on the west end that beavers have been gnawing on some of the many trees in this thickly wooded area.

Parks and Rec Committee member Brad Hastings said the launch site enables those who don’t lease lakefront property another way to access the lake.

“This is a recreational opportunity you don’t have in town,” Hastings said.

Summit Township trustee Steve Davis said the only concern some board members had was late-night noise and loitering.

“These concerns were addressed and the board seemed to think it was a good idea,” Davis said.

Ryan said kayaking is much less pricey than motorized means of water travel.

“Not everybody can afford a big boat, but you can get in a kayak for about $200 or $250,” Ryan said, adding that the price includes state and local permits, as well as a life vest.

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Source: Effingham Daily News, http://bit.ly/1Ww7AjT

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Information from: Effingham Daily News, http://www.effinghamdailynews.com

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