Water Stewardship for Paddlers

A river is more than an amenity…. It is a treasure.” 

-Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

Stand Up Paddleboarding, an offshoot of surfing that originated from Hawaii, has been around for many years. Recently this sport has seen exponential growth attracting many from avid outdoors enthusiasts to the novice. With greater numbers of paddlers setting out to explore our waterways each season, it has become increasingly important to not only practice and lead by example Safety on the Water but also to take a stake and share in the responsibility of the conservation and protection of our rivers and waterways, they are more than an amenity, they are a valuable treasure!  To protect and save these treasures for ourselves as well as generations to come we must all become good paddling stewards of our waterways.

Becoming a responsible paddling steward may sound like a daunting task at first, however it can be achieved with very little effort at all.  By becoming aware each and every time that you head out to paddle, packing out what you pack in, and perhaps even a little extra. Stop for a moment before you leave and take a quick sweep of the area. Is there something that was left behind from someone else that you can pick up? Or perhaps some extra debris left by a recent storm and high waves.  While out on your paddling adventure, take a closer look to see if there might be some extra debris, and trash that could be scooped up. Pack an extra dry bag, or ideally a mesh drawstring bag that you can collect such items while on your adventure, the mesh type bag will allow water and sand to drain away. 

Tip: SAVE (and recycle) plastic drawstring type mesh orange or onion bags or purchase a mesh laundry bag at your local dollar store. These work well too! Attach mesh bags to your board using a simple bungee cord for easy access. 😉

To take your paddling stewardship a step further,  you could join and become a member of the ACA – The American Canoe AssociationThe ACA Mission:  Founded in 1880, The American Canoe Association (ACA) is a national nonprofit organization serving the broader paddling public by providing education related to all aspects of paddling; stewardship support to help protect paddling environments; and sanctioning of programs and events to promote paddlesport competition, exploration and recreation.

Through the ACA membership there are many programs and grants available to take your paddling stewardship to the next level in helping to make the world a better place to paddle.  Through the Paddle Green Bag Program you can turn any paddling adventure into a paddling stewardship event.  Proceeds from the purchase of specialty Paddle Green Bags are used to help fund Paddle Green Events and Cleanups.

Explore the ACA website to find Paddle Green Events and Cleanups in your area as well as to learn more ways to become a good paddling steward of the waterways. If you are feeling so inspired you could create your own paddling event and cleanup. Grab a few friends and plan a paddling adventure practicing good paddling stewardship. According to the ACA, “Over 80% of the 6.14 million tons of debris that enter marine environments annually come from inland waterways”. You can help to make a difference .. “Don’t just paddle … Paddle GREEN!

Additional Resources:

Paddlesports Event Calendar 

Discovering the Ausable: An Aquatic Stewardship Program | Ausable …

Michigan – ACA | Canoe – Kayak – SUP – Raft – Rescue

ACA: Canoe – Kayak – SUP – Raft – Rescue

Leave No Trace