Thursday, May 23, 2013

Paddling Theater and WRA Pilot Trip

Hello WRA friends!

Last weekend we attended the 50th Anniversary of the Minnesota River Water Trail. To celebrate, the DNR, CURE MN, Playspace Productions, Wilderness Inquiry, and the Granite Falls Community put on a 3-day event of speakers, theatrics, and paddling. On Friday night, Anna and I attended a series of talks at City Hall. After I presented on my canoe trip to Hudson Bay and Wild River Academy, we heard a wonderful talk about the benefits of dam removals, pertaining specifically to the removal of the Minnesota Dam. We learned about river hydrology and the importance of free flowing water trails to promote a healthy water system for native fish to spawn and migrate. Some people argue that dams are important barriers to keeping invasive species from extending their reach. Luther, the presenter, told us that this is not true. With all of the flooding in our watersheds, invasive fish species, i.e. asian carp, are able to jump and sometimes even swim around dams. Besides, there are 21 other ways that invasive species can spread into new waterways. Crazy! After the Granite Falls dam, there are 254 miles of free flowing water trail until the Minnesota River flows into the Mississippi River at Fort Snelling State Park. That is more free flowing water than the St.Croix, yet the Minnesota River is rarely known for outdoor recreation. 

Nick, Anna, and I just got off the river from a four-day paddle from Moonstone Farms to Morton. We ran the new Minnesota Falls (just go down the center left, it'll be great) and several other rapids along that stretch of the river. I quickly remembered the beauty of the Minnesota River; despite the cold rain, we enjoyed our short expedition and we were in awe of the jungle birds, pelicans, eagles, beavers, granite outcroppings, and dense forest. We made more connections along the route, including new farmers and potentially someone to talk to us about the geology in the watershed and lead a star-gazing session for our groups. With all there is to do along our route, it is a wonder if we'll even have time to paddle anywhere!

We are leading the WRA Family Expedition next week, June 1-5. We start our excursion at Moonstone Farms where we will tour the farm, have orientation, cook dinner, and get to know everyone around a campfire. We will paddle to Memorial Park in Granite Falls the next morning where we will meet someone from the DNR Fisheries Department who will teach our groups how to fish. The next morning we will visit the WWII museum and then paddle to Upper Sioux State Park where we will tour the park to learn about Dakota history and the war of 1862. We will camp there. The fourth day of our trip we will paddle to Vicksburg County Park where we will meet with a local musician. The last day, we will paddle to Redwood Falls where we will meet with Scott Kudelka from the DNR to learn about healthy water systems and to look for macroinvertibrates in the Redwood River. Then we will depart back to our homes after a reflection session and goodbyes!

If you are interested in participating, there are four open spots on this expedition. Visit to sign up. Once you submit your online registration, we will contact you with more information. The cost is $400/person.

Thanks and see you on the river,

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