Paddlers take it upon themselves to "Clean-up" the river and create a mess

Monday, 10 December 2007
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Gunpowder River
A trout fishherman says he took this photo Nov. 4 in Gunpowder Falls State Park, where it is illegal to use power tools, such as chain saws. (courtesy of Theaux LeGardeur)
I found an article last week in the Baltimore Sun really disturbed me. It seems that back in November several members of the Greater Baltimore Canoe Club decided to take it upon themselves to take a chainsaw to some small trees that were growing and hanging over the Gunpowder River.

There are two reasons why this upset me. The first is that this small group of paddlers decided to illegally enter the state park with a chainsaw and without any consultation with the park wardens; decided to clean the strainers out of the river.

The second reason it bothered me is that by clearing out the strainers, they also destroyed prime trout habitat. The Gunpowder River was recently awarded the designation of Blue Ribbon Trout River and Field and Stream magazine has called it one of the Mid-Atlantic region's best.

In this particular case, you might say who cares. Strainers are dangerous and potentially life threatening. I can agree with you but in this case the Gunpowder River is part of a stewardship program between Trout Unlimited and Department of Natural Resources. In 1987, they worked hard to get the river cleaned up and create natural habitat. Each year, members of Trout Unlimited help state biologists conduct a trout census and conduct further cleanups.

As a paddler, you are by default an ambassador of the sport so when you go out and do something stupid, it is the sport itself that suffers. 6 months after an incident like this you will be forgotten but everybody will remember that it was paddlers who cut the trees down.

The article went on to say that the park service would have removed the strainer if it had posed a hazard. But no one contacted Gunpowder Falls State Park for an assessment and in this case the trees were not a hazard, just an inconvenience.

"In whitewater, there are times when you have to get out of the river and go around," Bushman says. "There's a word for that. It's called portage."

Here is a nice collection of the bad press paddlers received over it:
Paddlers with chainsaw bark up wrong tree

No fines in river incident Canoeists get warnings for cutting down trees
Field & Stream & Chain Saw - Boaters wreck Maryland fishing haven

Gunpowder River
A trout fishherman says he took this photo Nov. 4 in Gunpowder Falls State Park, where it is illegal to use power tools, such as chain saws. (courtesy of Theaux LeGardeur)
I found an article last week in the Baltimore Sun really disturbed me. It seems that back in November several members of the Greater Baltimore Canoe Club decided to take it upon themselves to take a chainsaw to some small trees that were growing and hanging over the Gunpowder River.

There are two reasons why this upset me. The first is that this small group of paddlers decided to illegally enter the state park with a chainsaw and without any consultation with the park wardens; decided to clean the strainers out of the river.

The second reason it bothered me is that by clearing out the strainers, they also destroyed prime trout habitat. The Gunpowder River was recently awarded the designation of Blue Ribbon Trout River and Field and Stream magazine has called it one of the Mid-Atlantic region's best.

In this particular case, you might say who cares. Strainers are dangerous and potentially life threatening. I can agree with you but in this case the Gunpowder River is part of a stewardship program between Trout Unlimited and Department of Natural Resources. In 1987, they worked hard to get the river cleaned up and create natural habitat. Each year, members of Trout Unlimited help state biologists conduct a trout census and conduct further cleanups.

As a paddler, you are by default an ambassador of the sport so when you go out and do something stupid, it is the sport itself that suffers. 6 months after an incident like this you will be forgotten but everybody will remember that it was paddlers who cut the trees down.

The article went on to say that the park service would have removed the strainer if it had posed a hazard. But no one contacted Gunpowder Falls State Park for an assessment and in this case the trees were not a hazard, just an inconvenience.

"In whitewater, there are times when you have to get out of the river and go around," Bushman says. "There's a word for that. It's called portage."

Here is a nice collection of the bad press paddlers received over it:
Paddlers with chainsaw bark up wrong tree

No fines in river incident Canoeists get warnings for cutting down trees
Field & Stream & Chain Saw - Boaters wreck Maryland fishing haven
David Johnston

David Johnston

David Johnston has been introducing people to the sport of sea kayaking for the past 15 years. He is a senior instructor trainer with Paddle Canada and teaches for several paddling schools in Ontario, Canada. Full Bio.

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