Paddle the Paw Paw: 23-July-2011 Report
Two Rivers Coalition's first paddle event of the summer was a great success. On Saturday, July 23, 42 people in 34 kayaks/canoes paddled from the base of Maple Lake Dam [51st Ave] to CR 665. Many were absolute beginners who used boats provided by TRC. Kenneth Nesbitt [TRC Board member] did a great job of coordinating so that everyone who needed a boat was provided one. Everyone had a great time and was very appreciative of the opportunity to get out on the river and see things from a completely different perspective.
Prior to actually getting in the river and paddling, local government officials welcomed everyone. Roman Plaszczak, Paw Paw Village President, thanked TRC for organizing the event. He also mentioned the need for some type of organization to take responsibility for keeping the river open, similar to the job B/SH HWTA does on the Black River. Village Manager Larry Nielsen also thanked TRC for taking a whole watershed approach to protecting water quality.
TRC's goal in sponsoring these paddle events is to increase awareness among the local populace of the beauty of the river and its importance for water quality, wildlife habitat, etc. We believe that the more people get out on the river and connect to it, the more they will understand and appreciate the importance of protecting the watershed.
Because of the recent storm damage, the paddle event almost did not happen. Dozens of trees were knocked down across the river by the storm on July 11. A four man crew spent two days working on the river with chainsaws and hand loppers to clear a path for kayaks and canoes thru the fallen trees. A big thanks to Johnny DeBruyn, Jan Blum, Dave Marcelletti, and Kenneth Nesbitt for all their hard work. There were still lots of submerged logs to be jumped, big branches to be skirted, and occasional trees to be limboed under. One consequence of having lots of first time paddlers was that they tended to occasionally get hung up on logs in the river and needed to be coached [and sometimes pushed] by the more experienced paddlers. But everyone, beginners and experts alike, seemed to be having a blast.
After taking out at CR 665, many of the paddlers then drove on to Lawrence where the afternoon segment of the paddle event took place. Several new people joined the group for the Lawrence segment, most notably State Representative Aric Nesbitt. He was treated to a delightful trip from the Village Park on CR 215 all the way to the 54th St bridge. There were many fewer trees to negotiate and the paddlers could relax more and take in the scenery. Swamp Milkweed was in full bloom as was the Button Bush and Lizard Tail.
It is important to note that a group of paddlers came all the way from Illinois [Sherri Graham and the Prairie State Canoeists] to paddle with us down the Paw Paw River. This is the second time this year they have travelled to Michigan to paddle on the Paw Paw. On Sunday they paddled on the Black River. This is compelling evidence of the high quality of our local rivers if people are coming from that far away to enjoy them.
The next TRC sponsored paddle event will be on the Black River on August 13. Also, don't forget the River Rescue clean-up event on August 6.