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US Fish & Wildlife Service FieldNotes

Paddling Come Rain or Shine on the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge

Region 3, June 26, 2012
The sun came out in time for lunch and a group photograph.
The sun came out in time for lunch and a group photograph. - Photo Credit: n/a
It rained several times during the trip to Visgers Landing.
It rained several times during the trip to Visgers Landing. - Photo Credit: n/a

If you had to choose, would you rather paddle in the rain or on a hot humid day? No matter your preference, if you were one of about 40 people that showed up for the Reno Bottoms Summer of Paddling event on June 16, 2012, you got your wish. The Friends of Pool 9 and the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge, McGregor District sponsored a trip down the Reno Bottoms Canoe Trail from the south side of Lock and Dam 8 spillway to Visgers Landing in Pool 9.

Refuge staff ferried kayaks and canoes from the parking lot down to the launch site where everyone gathered for a briefing on safety and the trip ahead. The paddlers traveled through one of the wildest, most undeveloped stretches of the Refuge. Reno Bottoms boasts the highest concentration of active bald eagle nests on the Refuge as well being one of the largest, contiguous tracts of bottomland forest left on the Mississippi River. The group stopped under an active bald eagle nest, next to a large beaver lodge, and near a ground water monitoring site to learn about wildlife and our natural resources.

Some participants were avid paddlers; others had never been in a canoe before. But perhaps the most notable was the maiden voyage of a gentleman with his new kidney. He was able to make the trip because five months ago his daughter had given him the ultimate gift – one of her kidneys. In the beginning he was hesitant to take the trip, but soon was relaxed, taking in the view, and joining in the fun despite the ever-changing weather. It oscillated from hot sun to drizzle to pouring rain.

People had to paddle upstream against the wind on the last leg of the journey but found the fortitude knowing that the Friends of Pool 9 were cooking up hamburgers and hotdogs at Visgers Landing. It stopped raining, the sun came out, and everyone congratulated each other on a fun day outside. Barry and Maria Stahl summed up their experience in an email, “We just wanted to tell you how much we enjoyed the Saturday paddling event in the Reno Bottoms! It was very well organized. I have never had anyone haul my canoe for me and cook me lunch when it was all over before. We are spoiled now. Thanks so much!”

This paddling event is just one of many events that are being held up and down the length of the Mississippi River this summer. It is part of the Presidential Initiative, America’s Great Outdoors, which encourages people to be active and get outside. It gives the public a chance to experience the Mississippi River through recreational and stewardship programs. If you would like more information about past or upcoming events, visit www.sop2012.org or contact Ann Blankenship at 563-873-3423. For more information about the Friends of Pool 9 visit http://www.friendsofpool9.org.

Contact Info: Ann Blankenship, 563-873-3423 Ext. 14, ann_blankenship@fws.gov