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One of the threads that's beginning to run through a lot of the river advocacy and riverfront community development work that is taking place is the need to get people on the water in order to know a river well. Sure your can look at it from a bike path, walking trail, or parkway, but, to paraphrase Annie Dillard, the difference between looking at a river and canoeing or kayaking on it is like the difference between kissing someone and marrying them!
These notes have already mentioned the Urban Wilderness Canoe Adventure, a subject that we will undoubtedly return to. This time, I want to post a brief note indicating how broadly the notion of canoe trails has reached. A friend in Washington just sent me a note highlighting the interview with the new director of Paddle Canada. Seems he's interested in developing paddle routes that involve international partnerships. One possibility might be the Detroit American Heritage River (AHR), which forms part of the border between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario. The American Heritage River Initiative (also previously mentioned in these notes; for further information, look here) also has an international "blue trail" possibility on the Rio Grande. Not surprisingly, many of the AHR rivers have active Blue Trail programs already up and running. See, for example, the New River Blueway, and the Willamette River Water Trail.
On the Mississippi, we like to think that we're second to none, but in this case, some smaller rivers may have gotten the jump on us. Of course, our work is pretty complex, but the problems are getting sorted out and the goal of getting 10,000 paddlers on the Mississippi in the Twin Cities in 2010 looks reachable.
Been on the river up here? Let us know your thoughts, or, better yet, send us some photos of your experience!
Image courtesy of Jim Brekke, used under a Creative Commons License
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of the Institute on the Environment/University of Minnesota.