Friday, April 20, 2018

EARTH DAY 2018: CLEAN WATER AND A HEALTHY ENVIROMENT, IT BEGINS WITH YOU

Walden Pond 1908
Genesis 9:13 I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth.

I've never been there, but have been there hundreds of times. Naturalist and philosopher, Henry David Thoreau's made his beloved Walden Pond, "a perennial spring in the midst of pine and oak woods," near Concord, Massachusetts, come alive to millions of who have never seen it either in his best-known work, “Walden; or, Life in the Woods.” The pond has become a symbol of to most environmentalists as living simply in the harmony of nature.
Henry David Thoreau

An early recreational hiker and canoeist Thoreau was an advocate for conserving natural resources on private land, and of preserving wilderness in public land. He would influence generations of naturalists and environmentalists such as the likes of John Burroughs and John Muir.
Recounting the two years, two months, and two days he spent at Walden Pond in 1854, Thoreau recorded a virtual Eden with phrases describing the pond's divine purity, beauty and solitude.

Walden: The transcendentalist treatise that filled a pond with pee.The scenery of Walden is on a humble scale, and, though very beautiful, does not approach to grandeur, nor can it much concern one who has not long frequented it or lived by its shore; yet this pond is so remarkable for its depth and purity as to merit a particular description.

 This water is of such crystalline purity that the body of the bather appears of an alabaster whiteness...

The water is so transparent that the bottom can easily be discerned at the depth of twenty-five to thirty feet.  Paddling over it, you may see, many feet beneath the surface, the schools of perch and shiners, perhaps only an inch long, yet the former easily distinguished by their transverse bars...

So it's surprising to hear that Walden Pond, the famed pristine jewel of that inspired Thoreau's environmentalism is being polluted.

At first glance, I wish it were some evil corporation dumping tainted sludge into the water or the weak efforts of EPA letting off the perpetrators, but it not. According to a new study, Walden Pond heavily used recreational venue has been befouled by years of swimmers, anglers, and visitors urinating in the water.

“These findings suggest that, although mitigation efforts have curtailed anthropogenic nutrient inputs to Walden Pond, the lake has not returned to the pre-impact condition described by Henry David Thoreau and may become increasingly vulnerable to further changes in water quality in a warmer and possibly wetter future,” Dr. Jay Curt Stager, a researcher at Paul Smith’s College in the Adirondacks, and his co-authors warned.

The study concluded the pond’s levels of nitrogen and phosphorus, which are found in human waste, has yielded an endless food supply for algae, creating a wrecking-ball to the ecosystem since the 1920s. The growing algae has spread out across the water blocking the rays of the sun, which of course the fish need to survive and threatening to turn one of America's most iconic lakes into a slimy, scummy mess.

"During the early 20th century, water clarity [in Walden Pond] declined significantly due to a combination of factors, including shoreline development and inputs of human wastes," the report stated, "More than half of the summer phosphorus budget of the lake may now be attributable to urine released by swimmers."

Lake Natoma
In the meantime, environmental advocates are warning the public about tests showing high levels of E. coli in the Sacramento area's Folsom Lake and Lake Natoma, two of the region’s most popular areas for swimming and boating. E. coli is an indicator of fecal contamination that can sicken people who come in contact or drink contaminated water. Officials believe it's the result of animal and human waste.

The Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board also reported elevated E. coli levels in the lower American River in 2015 and 2016, with the highest concentrations near downtown Sacramento.

“It should give people some discomfort about using the water – it’s not good,” said Ron Stork of Friends of the River told the Sacramento Bee.

The bottom line is, despite some of our best efforts to clean our nation's waterways,  they are nowhere near as pure as were when Thoreau dipped his toes into Walden Pond. It's easy to blame others, but it's all of us. Our country's most popular destinations that see a heavy volume of visitors, can have a devastating effect on our rivers and lakes' ecosystems. While garbage and trash are an easy to spot eyesore, the hidden pollution, AKA peeing in the pool, can over time, as we can see, be just as detrimental to the environment

American River
The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics a national organization that provides guidance on ways to enjoy nature without leaving a human impact offers these tips as part of their seven Leave No Trace principles.

Dispose of Waste Properly
  • Pack it in, pack it out. Inspect your campsite and rest areas for trash or spilled foods. Pack out all trash, leftover food and litter.
  • Deposit solid human waste in catholes dug 6 to 8 inches deep, at least 200 feet from water, camp and trails. Cover and disguise the cathole when finished.
  • Pack out toilet paper and hygiene products.
  • To wash yourself or your dishes, carry water 200 feet away from streams or lakes and use small amounts of biodegradable soap. Scatter strained dishwater. 
So this Earth Day 2018 weekend let's take action to protect our waterways like Walden Pond. As Thoreau states in“Walden; or, Life in the Woods,” our lakes, ponds and rivers are our treasure for the future generations to enjoy

White Pond and Walden are great crystals on the surface of the earth, Lakes of Light. If they were permanently congealed, and small enough to be clutched, they would, perchance, be carried off by slaves, like precious stones, to adorn the heads of emperors, but being liquid, and ample, and secured to us and our successors forever...

Friday, April 13, 2018

INFINITE PADDLING OPPORTUNITIES: Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta


By Outside Adventure to the Max Guest Blogger Kathy Bunton

The Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, AKA the California Delta offers some exceptional paddling opportunities that are unique every time you get on the water. With a thousand miles of waterways, where do you begin? Today I'll share ideas that are within a 3-mile radius of the Antioch Marina.

Antioch Marina

Let's begin with safety. Before you head out for some time on the water there are items you need to consider before you leave the house. This is NOT a comprehensive list but a good basic starting point.
  1. Weather conditions: When paddling the San Joaquin River from Antioch, it's imperative to check wind conditions. It may be dead calm when you arrive but winds can pick up at any time and change the paddling environment drastically. Check forecasts frequently as they can change often. Use apps like Windfinder and compare with NOAA forecast. Weatherbug app has live windspeed readings from the Antioch Marina.
  2. Tides: The water flows of the Delta are tidally influenced. The river actually flows backward with an incoming tide. Plan your trip so that you will have tides in your favor for your paddle home. Do the hard work first. Wind speed and direction of water flow are very important to consider. When winds blow in a direction opposing the tide it creates a more dynamic sea state. The river can turn into ocean-like conditions with winds above 10 mph blowing against the tide.
  3. Gear: The Delta can be paddled year-round so consider dressing for immersion, in other words, dress as if you are going to swim. Fall and winter offer some of the best paddling but if you don't own a drysuit or wetsuit be sure to pack dry clothes in a dry bag to bring with you in case you do get wet. Other safety gear includes cell phone or VHF radio, whistle, snacks and water. If paddling a sea kayak make sure to bring bilge pump and paddle-float. If you are paddling a sit inside kayak with no bulkheads make sure to bring float bags to place in bow and stern of the boat. MOST IMPORTANTLY WEAR YOUR PFD - PERSONAL FLOTATION DEVICE
  4. Float Plan: Have a plan and stick to it as best as possible. The US Coast Guard has blank plans you can download as does Boat-ed. Let friends or family know where you're going and when you plan to return. File a float plan with harbormaster or leave on the dash of the vehicle.
Kimball Island
Now let's go paddling! The following are some possible trips within 3 miles of the Antioch Marina. If you like to explore or paddle at a leisurely pace I'd allow 2-3 hours for a 2-4 mile round-trip adventure; 4-8 hours for a 4-6 mile round trip paddle. I suggest using a nautical chart or topographical map to plan. There are some apps such as USTopo that allow you to track your route and websites like Routebuilder that measure distance. Bay Area Sea Kayakers have an incredible resource known as the trip planner that includes tide information. It's also a great club to join!
Paddling West:
  1. Dow Wetlands - half a mile from the marina; has lots of sloughs to explore; offers protection from wind
  2. Winter Island - approximate 1.5-mile paddle to the southern tip of Winter Island; use caution when crossing shipping channel; multiple sloughs to explore
  3. Browns Island - approximate 2.5-mile paddle to the eastern edge of the island; Middle slough can offer protection from a westerly wind; multiple sloughs to explore
  4. Broad Slough - Point San Joaquin - approximate 3.5-mile paddle; exposed to northwest winds
  5. Broad Slough - Point Sacramento - approximate 3.5-mile paddle; convergence of San Joaquin and Sacramento Rivers; tricky currents at the point
  6. Sherman Island - approximate 2-mile paddle to the entrance of Sherman Island Waterfowl Management area; hundreds of sloughs to explore; watch depth for low tides; bring GPS to keep from getting lost if exploring inside the island
  7. Kimball Island - just under a half mile across the San Joaquin River; use caution crossing shipping channel; lots of shorelines to explore
Cabin Slough
Paddling East
  1. Kimball Island - just under a half mile across the San Joaquin River; use caution crossing shipping channel; lots of shoreline to explore
  2. Cabin Slough - approximate 1-mile paddle to the entrance of Cabin Slough; currents can be strong
  3. Mayberry Cut - approximate 2-mile paddle; southern entrance to Sherman Island Waterfowl Management Area
  4. Donlon Island - approximate 2.5-mile paddle to entrance; offers protection from wind; lots of sloughs to explore
  5. West Island North -  approximate 1.5-mile paddle to north westernmost shore; some sloughs and sandy beaches exposed at low tide
  6. West Island South - approximate 1.5-mile paddle to south-westernmost shore
  7. Antioch Dunes - approximate 1.5-mile paddle; sandy cliffs; EXTREMELY SENSITIVE HABITAT DO NOT  land unless emergency
  8. Fulton Shipyard; approximate 1-mile paddle to historic shipbuilder; use caution with boat traffic from the public launch
  9. Rogers Point - just under a mile paddle; historic shipwreck Solano can be viewed here; caution with boat traffic and underwater hazards such as rebar
Sherman Island view from west shore
All the paddle trips listed above are one-way measurements, make sure to double length to get round trip distance. These are just a sampling of what is available from the Antioch Marina. There are multitudes of sloughs and channels that beg to be explored and offer a true wilderness experience next door to the city.
If you prefer someone else do the planning contact Delta Kayak Adventures to book a guided tour to the destination of your choosing. We also have kayaks and paddleboards available to rent.

Kathy Bunton is the owner and operator of Delta Kayak Adventures based in Antioch, California.  You Keep up with Bunton in her blog Kayaking in the California Delta.  

Outside Adventure to the Max is always looking for guest bloggers. Contact us at Nickayak@gmail.com, if you are interested.



Dow Wetlands
San Joaquin River

Winter Island Turkey vultures
Wind and tides can create dynamic conditions

Friday, April 6, 2018

THE WATER KING: EPA'S Pruitt places himself in charge of all decisions reguarding the nation's waterways.


The Trump administration's attack on the Clean Water Act intensified earlier this week after Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt placed himself in charge of all decisions regarding the nation’s waterways.

Scott Pruitt
According to a memo provided to CNN by the group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility dated March 30, states that Pruitt will be making all final decisions when it comes to on the protection streams, ponds and wetlands tossing aside the input of the agency’s regional administrators and scientists.
"With this revised delegation, authority previously delegated to regional administrators to make final determinations of geographic jurisdiction shall be retained by the administrator," the memo states.

EPA spokeswoman Liz Bowman downplayed it, saying the memo is meant to deal with "significant issues or technical difficulties" that could arise while determining wetlands and waterways as the agency begins revamping the Obama-era water regulations.

"Regions will absolutely be involved in the process and work closely with the administrator's office when doing the work to assess jurisdiction for very select, and often rare, cases," Bowman said an article from the Washington Examiner.

The move is being seen by environmental groups as a way to change the approval process and lessen the role of EPA employees and scientists when it comes to evaluating whether projects have a significant negative environmental impact on waterways or wetlands. In the past, EPA scientists reviewed the requests for permits and determined whether a project was detrimental to the local environment waterway or wetland. In the memo, Pruitt notified EPA staff that he would now be in charge of those decisions.

Environmentalists are sensitive to these changes because they say waterways, streams and wetlands are critical to the drinking water supplies, fisheries, wildlife habitat or recreation areas.
"We're concerned about Administrator Pruitt's industry ties, and his moves to toss critical safeguards for our clean water supplies and rivers," American Rivers Amy Kober wrote in an email to Outside Adventure to Max.

In response Sierra Club's, Dalal Aboulhosn, Deputy Legislative Director for Land and Water, released the following statement, "The last person who should have decision making power over our drinking water is Scott Pruitt, who has a corrupt record of getting favors and marching orders from the same corporate polluters who want to dump their toxic pollution in our water. Pruitt’s dangerous power-grab would strip local scientists and experts of their ability to fairly judge whether or not America’s streams and waterways fall under the Clean Water Act’s protection will be disastrous."

Pruitt, who has also drawn scrutiny and calls for his resignation in recent weeks over alleged ethics violations, suspended the Waters of the U.S. rule (WOTUS) in January after the Obama-era rule was stayed by the courts with a clear plan of significantly reducing the scope of the Clean Water Act.

So far 11 states, in conjunction with Natural Resources Defense Council and National Wildlife Federation have filed a lawsuit in federal court in New York to prevent the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers from delaying implementation of these regulations.

Friday, March 23, 2018

OVER THE BOW: UPPER LAKE CLEMENTINE



The life of the wood, meadow, and lake go on without us. Flowers bloom, set seed and die back; squirrels hide nuts in the fall and scold all year long; bobcats track the snowy lake in winter; deer browse the willow shoots in spring. Humans are but intruders who have presumed the right to be observers, and who, out of observation, find understanding.  -- Ann Zwinger

There are two factors that are relied on when getting images of wildlife. The first is patience. Getting up close to wild animals with an elusive nature proves to be challenging. You can’t ask them to look this way or stand where the light is better. Be prepared to wait and watch for that perfect moment. As a consequence, the longer you spend watching them the more you to know about them.

“You have to be really patient,” National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore told PBS, “ Most shoots I’m covered with bugs. Most of the time it's physically miserable, and if you weren’t wound tight like me to get good pictures, why in the world would you ever do something like this? I don’t think you could stand it!”
Over last decade Sartore focus has been a project he calls the Photo Ark, the world’s largest collection of animal studio portraits. His goal is simple: to get the public to care and save species from extinction.

"That’s what the Photo Ark really is about,” Sartore said about the series. “It's hoped that people will fall in love with these things, want to learn about what happened to the species, what they can do to save it and then realize that it ties directly back into their own lives. I think we should show good stewardship to all species, great and small. Clearly, the best course of action is to protect entire ecosystems so that individual species don’t get into trouble in the first place."

I don't claim to be a wildlife photographer. Sometimes it's just luck. Getting up close to skittish wild animals in nature can be both challenging and immensely frustrating, especially when relying on waterproof point and shoot camera. However being able to glide silently through the water in a kayak I'm able to observe and shoot images from without disrupting them in their natural habitat. Sometimes I find the animal is just as curious about me as I am them.

That was the case while on a recent paddling trip on Lake Clementine. The lake is a four-mile-long and narrow waterway in Northern California's Auburn State Recreation Area, fed by the North Fork American River. It was formed in 1939 when the Army Corps of Engineers built the dam to prevent gold mining debris from flowing downstream.

Paddling around the bend near the upper portion of the lake, I happened upon a bobcat on the high back eyeing a pair of geese in the water below. As I came closer, its attention drifted towards me and my boat.

Seldom seen, these elusive and nocturnal wildcats roam throughout much of North America and adapt well to such diverse habitats. Stealthy solitary hunters, they survive on diet of rabbits and ground squirrels by using their long legs, large paws to pounce on their prey. Named for its tail, which appears to be cut or “bobbed.”

An important character in Native Amercian folklore claims the bobcat doesn't show itself without reason. Traditional stories say the sighting of a bobcat is very powerful medicine. The bobcat plays a very negative role in the legends of some tribes. It is considered bad luck to see a one. He is greedy, selfish, and disregards social rules, while in others believe dreaming about strong and agile animal would grant them special powers and superior hunting skills. Often parabled opposite of the coyote, the bobcat is associated with the fog because of its hidden and secretive nature while the coyote represents natural forces the wind.

Interpretations of bobcats sightings vary. For many that are not tuned in spiritually, seeing the animal is a thing of chance. Of course, I don't think that.  When I'm out on the water the mysterious properties nature and theology always immerses me. So maybe it wasn't luck, the bobcat was not a coincidence but a lesson received in silence.

It's a sign to reflect and regain our energy. As a solitary creature, the bobcat inherently knows this and is trying to tell us to break away and take time for ourselves. To seek quiet moments to ask ourselves some meaningful questions and think about what matters most. In our noisy lives filled with people, things and media, we all need an escape and chance to seek our own solitude.

After a while, the bobcat's patience with our face to face encounter fades. It decides to move to higher ground and into the shelter of the Ponderosa pine looking back over its shoulder from time to time, watching me before disappearing like the fog into the cover of the hills

Over the Bow is a feature from Outside Adventure to the Max, telling the story behind the image. If you have a great picture with a great story, we would love to see it. Submit it to us at nickayak@gmail.com

Friday, March 16, 2018

THE PADDLE'S MOJO


It was inspiriting to hear the regular dip of the paddles, as if they were our fins or flippers, and  to realize that we were at length fairly embarked... Henry David Thoreau,

It's the primary piece of the paddle. Half the time unseen buried in water, the other half, it's flying above your head. It's designed to move as much water as it can quickly and smoothly by catching and pushing the water away and around its edge. In doing so, it creates a phenomenon of physics in the water beneath your boat. It's that force of resistance, that propels the boat your forward.

All kayak paddles have the three basic parts. The shaft, throat and the blades at both ends. It's the length of the shaft that is always considered first in the sizing recommendations in accordance with paddler's height and their size of a kayak. While the size and shape of the blade are sometimes an afterthought to the paddler's needs.

Kayak blades come in different shapes and sizes either being flat or curved. The bigger high angle blade means the paddler will be pulling more water while low angle blades have longer and narrower blades. Experts say, typically, the folks looking for a big blade, are bigger and stronger individuals usually paddling heavy boats or looking for a good workout while out on the water.

In the past, symmetrical (flat) blades were the popular, however as the sport transformed, paddlers wanted to go further and faster, all while expending less energy. Asymmetrical blades with the top edge are slightly longer, resembling the wing of an airplane, were developed allowing water to effortless flow along each side of the blade

"Kayak blade shapes are continually evolving," wrote Brian Boyea of Aqua-Bound and Bending Branches in an e-mail, "Some of the original kayak paddles had squared edges on the blades. Since then, the blades have become rounded. The rounded edges help water roll off the blades evenly and prevent the edges of the blades from getting caught or snagged on anything that may be below the water’s surface."

Aqua-Bound is one the world's largest manufacturers of whitewater, touring, and recreational kayaking paddles, while its sister company,  Bending Branches concentrates on making canoeing paddles. Leaders in making plastic-bladed kayak paddles, Boyea says, their engineers spend quite a bit of time designing blade shapes and prototypes. Typically it can take about 6-8 months to go from ideas to blade prototypes.

"Once they come up with a prototype they like," wrote Boyea, "We run it through a series of in-house tests to make sure the blade will stand up to the test that our paddles typically face. After some in-house testing, we send proto-type paddles out to trusted individuals for field testing. After running the prototypes through the paces, these individuals will give us all sorts of feedback. We’ll use that feedback to alter the blade shape and design as we see fit."

The biggest evolution in paddle blades has come in the form of their material make-up according to Boyea. Manufacturers are finding lighter and stronger materials such as fiberglass and carbon fiber to build enhance their blade's features.
"New blade shapes and designs are constantly being introduced to the market. Lighter and stiffer materials play a role in this as well. We just launched our new compression molded Whiskey and Tango performance kayak paddles." wrote Boyea, "Those blades are made up of compression molded fiberglass and compression molded carbon. These are the lightest blades we’ve ever designed. We’re excited to see where we can go next."

Paddling blade master, Sigurd Olson, proclaimed, "There is magic in the feel of a paddle and the movement of a canoe." He was right of course because it's all a disappearing act. The blade vanishes into the water, gliding the kayak forward, only to reappear an instant later. It will do that a thousand times and then thousands more while trekking across the water.  It's the paddle's mojo.

Paddle Machine
Sure paddles are now lighter, stiffer, and more durable, but a California state senator wants to classify them as "machinery" that propel a vessel in an amendment to Section 651 of the Harbors and Navigation Code, relating to vessels.
Bill SB 1247, introduced by Senator Ted Gaines (R-El Dorado) last month, purposes that regulations governing vessels would define“machinery” as any sail, rigging, rudder, oar, paddle, or similar device used on a vessel. The bill would stipulate that any vessel that uses machinery in its operation is a mechanically propelled vessel.
Opponents feel this is the move to require all canoes, stand up paddle boards, and kayaks to be registered with the DMV like boats and jet skis with fees from $29.00 or $49.00 per year. Currently, in California, paddle craft are not required to be licensed.
Outside Adventure to the Max reached out to Senator Gaines office via email and received no response to our inquiry.

Friday, March 9, 2018

URBAN PADDLER

The Mississippi River and downtown St Paul, Minnesota.

There is a whirl of activity at Hidden Falls Park in St. Paul, Minnesota. Shuttle buses are coming and going. Kayaks and canoes are being unloaded and carried to the grassy staging area next to the river. Numbers are have been assigned, pictures are being taken, while water, apples and granola bars are packed into the boats. It is the annual Mightyssippi River Adventure Race day on the Mississippi River. Over a 100 hundred paddlers have signed up for the 14-mile charity event through the Twin Cities. The paddler's instructions on the river are easy: Be Safe, stay to the right of the river when traveling downstream. Avoid all boats and barges and have fun.

A countdown from the loudspeakers and soon the river is filled with kayaks and canoes of every color and size. Before long the paddlers spread out going past Fort Snelling State Park and the skyline of St Paul giving each one their own perspective of the famous river. At times it is gritty and industrial, but also offers an oasis of nature in the heart of city dwellings.

A night on California's Lake Natoma.
Most paddlers feel like they are discovering it for the first time. They are surprised that an urban river can contain so much beauty and nature. It happens all the time for urban paddlers. The waterways thought to be dirty and polluted are found clean, inviting and full of wildlife. On the Red River between Fargo and Moorhead, I have seen deer, beaver and even a bald eagle along the bends of the rivers just blocks away from downtown. River otters splash and hide in the rocks underneath the Rainbow Bridge over Lake Natoma and the American River, while farther down Californian quail, deer, and Canadian geese find a haven in the sloughs.

On the river urban views are blocked by trees. The only reminder that one is even close to civilization is going to the cities train and highway bridges. The buzz of traffic echoes off the water giving us the only clue we are close to home. In some places, we go back in time past turn of the century mills and remnants. Along the Red River on the Moorhead side, I can still find broken bottles from the prohibition days when North Dakota was dry and Minnesota taverns were right on the river. On the American River, huge piles of dredge tailings are still visible from gold mining days. The waterways are no longer highways or dumping grounds and the rivers have now reclaimed their banks.

Canoeist Natalie Warren founder of the outdoor education nonprofit Wild River Academy has trekked the waterways across the country to observe how rivers are promoted in their communities. In a recent interview with Canoe & Kayak Magazine said, "When I paddled urban rivers from Minneapolis to Hudson Bay and from Minnesota down to the Gulf of Mexico, I realized that our local water trails have their own beauty and, even more, provide a classroom to learn how our country uses rivers. My experiences on wild and urban rivers inspired me to speak about building a culture around urban paddling, diversifying the paddling community, and increasing recreation, positively impacting all aspects of society."

Warren's goal is to increase recreation through the public waterways in river towns with the addition outfitters, hiking and bike paths, restaurants and interpretive centers, campgrounds and most important access to the water.
 "I hope to highlight the positive ripple effects of opening up to the river and prioritizing water trails to improve recreation and trails, tourism and economies, and increased environmental education and ecosystem health. It all starts with a paddle in the water. Every time you paddle locally you are partaking in a larger movement for the betterment of communities, ecosystems, and the future of river-town economies."

Paddlers taking part in the Mightyssippi River Adventure finished the day under the Interstate 94 bridge, 14 miles downstream. They came away with sore muscles and smiles with this annual day on the Mississippi. Of course for some, this experience is only a warm up to their annual Boundary Waters trip or lifelong dream of going down the Grand Canyon. However, paddling locally and exploring their neighborhood water trail gave them a low-cost view of the river, right in their own backyard.

This article was originally published in Outside Adventure to the Max January 17, 2015. 

 

Jury convicts Arizona man of shooting at Flagstaff kayakers 

An Arizona jury was deadlocked on attempted murder and kidnapping charges against Danny Eugene Button who was accused of shooting at four kayakers but convicted him of endangerment and other counts.

Button was found guilty earlier this week, of endangerment, aggravated assault and disorderly conduct with a weapon according to the Mohave Valley Daily News.
Button, 68, used a handgun to fire five shots at a group of kayakers as they were paddling down the Burro Creek in February 2017. Tyler Williams saw one round hit about four feet from him. He bailed from the kayak and floated downriver to escape. He was found unharmed the next day. The rest of the party was ordered out their kayaks by Button and held at gunpoint and ordered them to return upstream to the campground. Button claimed they were trespassing on private property. Button's wife's family owns the land surrounding that section of the creek, while prosecutors say the kayakers did not trespass on the property because is creek is a navigable waterway and boaters did not come contact with the bank or bottom.
The judge ordered Button to remain in custody without bond until his sentencing, which is scheduled for next month. He could face 20 to 30 years in prison.

Kayaker attacked river otter, fearing for her life, battles animal with paddle


When we think of river otters, we think of the playful critter sliding and wrestling, belly flopping, and somersaulting through the water. Unlike a mountain lion or alligator we know we have little to fear. But, in Florida last weekend a paddling trip turned life-threatening when a river otter surprisingly attacked a 77-year-old woman
Sue Spector was kayaking with a group on Braden River in west-central Florida when an otter climbed onto her kayak and then jumped on her scratching and biting her arms, nose and ear.

"I took my paddle and I tried to get him off of me and he wouldn't let go and I kept screaming, I kept beating him with a paddle," Spector told Tampa Bay's Fox 13, "When you're [in the middle of] it you don't have a lot of thought except you hope you survive."
As she fought to beat the animal off, her kayak flipped, Fox reports, leaving her in neck-deep cold water still battling the possibly rabid animal
The otter eventually let go, as Spector's nearby husband also beat it with his paddle, leaving Spector needing stitches and rabies treatment.
While this is extremely unusual behavior for otters, a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokesperson told the Bradenton Herald they have heard reports of at least four injuries due to an aggressive otter.

Friday, March 2, 2018

FLOOD WATCH: HIGH WATER HAVOC IN THE MIDWEST

Courtesy of Claire Abendroth, MLive  Check out her other flood Photos
This past week roughly 70 rivers were at flood stage and more than 250 river gauges reported levels above flood stage from the Great Lakes to Texas according to the National Weather Service as heavy rains and intense flooding has ravaged parts of central and southern states. While this weekend, states along the Atlantic Coast are bracing for a major Nor'easter expected to pound the region with damaging winds, heavy rain and snow and severe flooding.

Flood waters on the Ohio River in both Louisville and Cincinnati were at their highest levels in 20 years. The river was expected to reach moderate flood stage along the southern border of Ohio and West Virginia in the coming days, the weather service said.

In Michigan, the water is receding after flooding that prompted evacuations after areas were swamped by high water from heavy rains and melting snow.



As the water gush city streets were turned into rivers enticing some paddlers to break out their boats and explore their flooded neighborhoods and the campus of Michigan State University in East Lansing.

Last week, Colleen Curran and her husband Jesse Schultz launched their kayaks in a campus parking lot and toured the flooded college's landmarks and sports facilities paddling down the usually dry River Trail, or through Beal Botanical Gardens, where the water went right up to the university's library.

The coolest sight, she told MLive, was paddling through the baseball and softball diamonds, where water was so deep, at times their paddles didn't even touch the ground. The doors to the hitting and pitching facility were open, to paddle through, giving them the feeling of being on the Titanic.

"We kayak the same rivers all the time," Curran said, "It's not often it floods and we get to do something different."

Floodwater, however, can be very treacherous as Kalamazoo's Evan Curtis told Wood TV8.
"There’s a whole bunch of people kayaking, so we’re like, ‘Hey let’s go kayaking! We thought it would be a great idea. Like it’d be a great time.”
But, it didn’t take long for Curtis and the rest of his kayak club to figure that out that the flooded Kalamazoo River wasn't the place to play.
“There were spots that where it was pretty questionable,” he said. “Once we got to the river that was crazy. It was going so fast.”

Rescuers are saying that those high swift waters on the Paw Paw River and the Grand River are to blame for two missing kayakers presumed drowned in two separate incidents in Michigan earlier this week. While an Indiana State Police trooper and two good Samaritans quick action saved a kayaker’s life.

The Lansing Fire Department says rescue teams were told that the man fell into the into the Grand River water running fast after last week's major flooding, Tuesday evening near the Brenke Fish Ladder in Lansing. Witnesses reported a kayak and paddle were spotted floating down the river. Boats and divers were called to search the river.

"Given the water level and the speed the river is traveling right now, we knew this was going to be a long, intensive operation," fire department spokesman Steve Mazurek said.


Along the Paw Paw River, about hundred miles west of Lansing, rescuers were searching for another kayaker this week after two of the kayaks capsized after hitting a log in the river.

"One guy was able to get his kayak through the logjam and made his way to shore," said Dan Jones the Chief of the Watervliet Fire Department told WNDU-TV, "The other one swam to shore and the third one is still missing."

Searching the Paw Paw River
Officials warned that this not the time to on the Paw Paw River, because of the recent flooding.
"With the river being out of its banks there's a lot of entanglements and the channel that has the highest flow in it is pretty narrow," said Jones. "Stay out unless you're very well experienced," said Jones. "If you do wander into the waters, by all means, wear a life jacket it makes you much easier to find."

Kaitlyn Greene
While in Indiana earlier this week, state trooper Kaitlyn Greene was patrolling flooded areas when she was frantically waved down by the wife of a kayaker who was nearly submerged underwater and clinging to a metal culvert pipe. They had been kayaking in a flooded field when he and his kayak was swept into the culvert. He was able to grab the top of the pipe before being sucked underwater, keeping his head and arms above water.

Greene, a member of the local water rescue team was able to secure her throw bag rope under the man's armpits and around his back and with the help of two passing motorists pull the boater to safety.
"As bad as it sounds,” she told the Dubois County Herald, “Ninety-nine percent of what I do is evidence and body recoveries. It was refreshing to actually be able to do a rescue and he got to go home.”

So the best advice we can give when it comes to paddling in flood waters is: DON'T!
It's pretty simple advice but as one can see from the stories above, not always taken.
Flood waters are just very unpredictable. Each year, more deaths occur due to flooding than from any other thunderstorm related hazard. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that over half of all flood-related drownings occur when a vehicle is driven into hazardous flood water.
Most people underestimate the force and power of water. A mere 6 inches of fast-moving flood water can knock over an adult. It only takes a foot of rushing water to sweep away a small car, while 2-feet of rushing water can wash away most vehicles along with the road under it.

So why would you even consider boating in a river, creek or any other body of water is at or above flood stage? You are not only risking your life but the lives of search and rescue crews, not to mention the possibility of arrest and fines if law officials issue orders banning all nonofficial watercraft in the flooded areas.

NRS listed eight dangers in flood stage boating in their web page article entitled Riding the Flood, that should always be considered before paddling in inundate waters


  • Debris in the water. The rising water pulls streamside debris into the flow. Banks get undercut and trees, fence posts and structures fall into the water. You can find yourself sharing the run with all sorts of foreign objects.
  • Strainers. Trees and logs get lodged and create severe hazards. Water flows through and around them; you and your boat won’t. In larger streams, you may be able to avoid them. In a smaller stream, a strainer can completely block it. Undercut rocks and boulder sieves are also severe entrapment hazards that can be created or accentuated by high water.
  • Low head dams. A low head or “run of the river” dam is used to raise the level of a stream. Water flows over the lip of the dam and creates a perfect reversal on the downstream side that can go from difficult to impossible to get out of. They are dangerous at any flow, but can be particularly strong at high flows.
  • Bridge abutments. They can catch debris and even block off the channel. Even without debris catch, they kick off big swirling side-curling waves.
  • Turbid water. The muddy flow hides hazards that would normally be visible.
  • Water out of its banks. The stream can flow out into the surrounding countryside, taking you into trees, brush, fences and other entrapment obstacles.
  • Cold water. Especially in the spring, cold water significantly increases the risk of hypothermia.
  • Fast current. Normally, the higher the water, the faster it is flowing. Things happen fast, you have much less time to react to conditions.