The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) is offering a series of Paddle Ohio events to promote paddling on Ohio’s state-designated wild, scenic and recreational rivers and water trails. Nearly 150 people participated in the Paddle Ohio floats offered last year by the ODNR Division of Watercraft during the program’s inaugural year.
“Paddling Ohio’s rivers and water trails provides paddlers a unique perspective of our state’s beautiful landscapes,” said ODNR Director James Zehringer. “It is a great opportunity for family and friends to enjoy time together while bringing attention to our efforts and the work of our partners to preserve and protect Ohio’s scenic and vital waterways.”
While people are encouraged to paddle at their convenience, a number of events are currently planned throughout the summer, including floats on the Chagrin, Little Miami, Maumee and Olentangy scenic rivers and the Great Miami and Muskingum River water trails.
For event dates and more detailed information, including registration, visit paddle.ohiodnr.gov. The Olentangy and Maumee scenic rivers floats are currently at capacity, but paddlers with their own equipment and transportation are still welcome to attend and participate. Check paddle.ohiodnr.gov for possible float cancellations due to high water.
The Paddle Ohio initiative will reward individuals who paddle four of Ohio’s wild, scenic and recreational rivers or water trails with a commemorative pin. Participants simply submit information about their four paddling trips on the Paddle Ohio registration form at paddle.ohiodnr.gov, and ODNR will mail the pin to qualifying individuals. Future plans include a series of pins that paddlers will be able to collect for paddling up to 20 different segments of the designated rivers or water trails.
Ohio pioneered the river preservation movement in 1968 with the passage of the nation’s first scenic rivers act. This legislation protects Ohio’s high quality streams for the enjoyment of future generations. Maintaining Ohio’s scenic rivers and water trails requires the partnership of numerous volunteers, conservation groups, nonprofit organizations, local leadership, government agencies and private owners.
Paddling interest and involvement continues to grow in Ohio. Over the last decade, the number of Ohio-registered canoes and kayaks increased 141 percent to more than 132,000 in 2014. From 2013 to 2014, Ohio saw an increase of almost 13,500 paddlers.
Maps and more information on Ohio’s scenic rivers and water trails, as well as information on volunteering to be a stream quality monitor, is available from the ODNR Division of Watercraft at watercraft.ohiodnr.gov/scenicrivers.