CLEVELAND, Ohio — Fans of the Cuyahoga River want it designated an official Ohio water trail, promoting public access and increasing appreciation for the waterway.
“People are already paddling on the Cuyahoga,” sad Andrea Irland, of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park’s Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program. “What a water trail would do is make it a better experience and bring a multitude of benefits to the region and the river.”
Twenty-five organizations — including the national park, cities along the river and nonprofit groups — have been working since 2011 on the designation. The West Creek Conservancy will oversee the program.
10 waterways throughout Ohio, including portions of the Sandusky, Vermilion and Black rivers, are listed as Ohio water trails, with specific access points, signage, maps and educational material. The trail is geared to all paddlers: kayaks, canoes and stand-up paddleboards.
Kayaks are by far the most popular, said Irland. Ohio Department of Natural Resources registrations for non-motorized boats are up 25 percent, she said.
The Cuyahoga River water trail group hopes to finalize its status by June 2019, the 50th anniversary of the most infamous Cuyahoga River fire.
“The Cuyahoga River is a symbol of efforts to clean up America’s waterways. Famous for catching fire, the Cuyahoga is now sparking excitement,” a news release said. “Official designation as a water trail by the State of Ohio will be a crowning achievement for the region celebrating community stewardship, river restoration, and recreation opportunities on the river.”
The Cuyahoga is unique for its diversity, Irland said.
“We have wild and scenic river in the headwaters, over near Burton, Hiram or Mantua,” she said. “Then we have a no-paddle zone through Lake Rockwell, the primary drinking source for Akron. The Kent area is one of the most paddled sections. Then you get into the Gorge, with real white water… And then you have the big dam. Then we have a National Park experience through the valley. And then the shipping channel. That has its own issue of freighters and bulkheads.”
The group is hosting public meetings this fall for people to show support, learn information and contribute ideas.
“We have some idea of where the access points will be, but we want input from paddlers and others,” she said.
The meetings are:
- Oct. 9, 4:30-6:30 p.m., The Natatorium, 2345 Fourth Street, Cuyahoga Falls
Oct. 15, 3-7 p.m., Happy Days Lodge, Cuyahoga Valley National Park, 500 West Streetsboro Road, Peninsula
Oct. 16, 3-7 p.m., Buchert Park Lodge, 4808 East High Street, Mantua,
Oct. 24, 3-7 p.m., Merwin’s Wharf, 1785 Merwin Avenue, Cleveland
Oct. 31, 3-7 p.m., Roy Smith Shelterhouse, Fred Fuller Park, 497 Middlebury Road, Kent
For more Cuyahoga River and Lake Erie news, like cleveland.com’s RocktheLake on Facebook. Or follow us on Instagram or Twiter @rockthelakecle.
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