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Paw Paw River Odyssey 2010


The Paw Paw River Odyssey began in August of 2010 with the below letter from Kevin Haight to the public.  Kevin's adventure, widely followed on this web site, showed us all that Nature did not slight the Two Rivers area when she created our rivers.  As can be seen from the pages that follow, much of the Paw Paw River is still wild and wonderful.  Here and there is evidence of man's abuse but it is hoped that you will agree: That which is unspoiled is well worth protecting and preserving for the benefit and enjoyment of future generations, and that which has been despoiled is worth restoring wherever possible.  Please enjoy the story.



Like all of you, I was shocked and saddened by the environmental devastation caused by the massive oil leak over the past several months in the Gulf of Mexico. Then, just a few weeks ago, I learned of the oil spill on the Kalamazoo River and realized that the freshwater treasure we know as the Great Lakes is at risk as well.  I wanted to do something to both raise awareness of local water quality issues and raise funds for local conservation efforts.  Therefore, I decided to embark on a paddling trip down the Paw Paw River to raise funds for Two Rivers Coalition and Freshwater Future as part of the Walk, Paddle and Roll event.  As you may already know, Two Rivers Coalition is a 501(c)(3) volunteer organization involved with conservation, education and advocacy concerning water quality issues in both the Paw Paw River and Black River watersheds.  Freshwater Future does the same thing on a region wide basis for the entire Great Lakes Basin.

The Paw Paw River and its associated flood plain forest and wetlands is an incredibly important ecosystem extending from the glacial moraines of western Kalamazoo County through Van Buren County to Berrien County where it joins the St. Joseph River and then flows into Lake Michigan.  The watershed drains 285,557 acres (446 square miles).  Over the last 150 years, the watershed has lost approximately 50% of its wetlands which has caused some degradation in water quality.  Although I may be biting off way more than I can chew, I plan to paddle the entire main branch of the Paw Paw River from the dam at Maple Lake in Paw Paw down the approximately 66 miles of winding river (including countless logjams) to its confluence with the St. Joseph River. 

Please partner with me in raising awareness of the beauty and importance of the Paw Paw River and the threats that it faces by sponsoring me on-line.  You can make a donation by clicking here.

You can pledge an amount based on the river miles I paddle.  I expect that it will take me the rest of the summer and fall to paddle the 66 miles of river.  As I get to the sections which are more easily navigable between Hartford and Watervliet, TRC members will be invited to paddle those sections with me.

I will post updates on my progress at the First Giving website, as well as here on theTRC website and the TRC facebook page.

On behalf of Two Rivers Coalition and Freshwater Future, I thank you in advance for any support you can give.  I also urge you to check out the TRC website with regard to water quality issues and other ways you can become involved.


Kevin Haight


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