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May 2019 ~ Volume 120 ~ Celebrating 10 years of The Happy Paddler!
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Trip Recap: Suwannee River Paddling Festival

Click on the image above to view an WCTV Eyewitness News video and writeup about the festival. 
Nearly 100 paddlers attended our season-ending festival last month.  Congratulations to Capt. Karen Chadwick as the recipient of our 2019 Environmental Leadership Award, and thanks to Jill Lingard of the Florida Paddling Trails Association (FPTA) for her presentation. We were able donate $500 to the FPTA to support their youth program and all our paddlers were able to complete both days of paddling on the Withlacoochee and Suwannee rivers.

Paddling can tell a story

By Eric Draper, Director, Florida State parks
Photo: Kayaks at Dunns Creek State Park, a stop on the Putnam County Bartram Trail.
I was happy that the recent Palatka Trail Town celebration had one of the largest turnouts I’ve seen. The Florida Park Service recognizes communities as Florida Trail Towns when they make a great effort to embrace land and water trails and provide trail amenities. The biggest group at the celebration was small business owners excited about future trail visitors. A remarkable partnership between local governments, businesses and long-term trail advocates is what earned Palatka their designation. Trail champions held a vision of what their community could be, and they pursued it. [Read more...]

Florida Paddlesports Program Spring Training

The Florida Paddlesports Program trains people to be skilled leaders so paddling is safer and more enjoyable, and establishes more volunteer paddling trip leaders in Florida’s state parks and elsewhere. Since 2014, 95 people have completed the course, and several of these trained volunteers are leading trips for the public. This testimonial was received from participant Ellen Butler after completing the fall 2018 course:

"Over my career, I've delivered and participated in many training sessions, and this one ranks as my best experience ever! I've already framed out changes to our St. Lucie County paddling program, and I'm eager to start working on my skills."

The training involves 16 hours with expert American Canoe Association (ACA) instructors who coach attendees through the rigorous ACA Coastal Day Trip Leader course. This course focuses on risk assessment and group management.

The next training will take place May 21-24, 2019, at Lake Louisa State Park. Class size is limited. 

Contact doug.alderson@FloridaDEP.gov for more details.

Why Paddling Is Vital for Human Survival

By Scott MacGregor, Paddling Magazine
Photo: Scott MacGregor

For most of the last two million years, humans lived in a natural world. Living in a natural world one relies on nature for food and shelter, and early peoples would have spent a good part of their days outside. By comparison, the time we’ve spent indoors clumped together like lab rats in urban dwellings is just a sliver of the time we’ve spent on Earth. This shift from following caribou migration to picking up a box of microwavable lemon chicken in the freezer aisle of the supermarket is very recent and very dramatic. And it’s having powerful effects on our lives and our well-being.

Why Paddling Is Vital For Human Survival

Kuo isn’t a paddler, but she walks to her office on the lush University of Illinois campus where for 30 years she has been studying the effects of nature on humans. Humans living in today’s urban dwellings are like early zoo animals living in captivity, she says. When we are provided just the basics of food and shelter, we get by, but we fail to thrive.

According to habitat selection theory, animals are wired for whatever habitat we evolved in. Humans, just like the rest of the animals on the planet, thrive in a natural habitat physically, psychologically and socially. Kuo equates life in a two-bedroom condo to a 1950s circus zebra living in a cage. [Read more...]

Silver springs, heal thyself!
By Dr. Robert Knight

Executive Director, Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute

“Medice, cura te ipsum!” (Physician, heal thyself!) is an applicable biblical quote depicting the current fate of Silver Springs. Attributed to Jesus in Luke 4:23, this passage can be interpreted to warn against the hypocrisy of claiming to have the ability to solve a problem in others while being unable to avoid the problem in ourselves.

In early 2018 the Florida Legislature ratified Senate Bill 670, codifying a “prevention strategy” for Silver Springs. The purpose of this addition to the St. Johns River Water Management District’s consumptive use applicant’s handbook was “to ensure that flows and levels within Silver Springs do not fall below the recently adopted minimum flows and levels (MFLs) during the next 20 years.”

The minimum average flow the district had recently adopted for Silver Springs was 412 million gallons per day (MGD), which authorized an average flow reduction of 22% compared to the historic, pre-1990 average Silver Springs flow of 530 MGD. At the end of 2017 the annual average flow at Silver Springs was 301 MGD, or 111 MGD below the “minimum” average set by the District and 43% (229 MGD) lower than the historic average. [Read more...]

Florida Flora & Fauna Spotlight

Cypress (Cupressus) Swamps
Photo: U.S. Geological Survey
Cypress trees, the most flood-tolerant of all Florida tree species, grow in areas that are covered in water for longer periods than the surrounding marshlands. Two species of cypress occur in the Everglades, the bald cypress (Taxodium distichum) and the pond cypress (Taxodium ascendens). Within the Everglades, cypress swamps are restricted to Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge and east of Shark River Slough and into Taylor Slough in the southern Everglades. [Read more...]
Inspiring.Meaningful.Adventure.

2019-20 Season Announcement
Suwannee River Wilderness Trail
October 18-23, 2019
Celebrate Florida's version of autumn on its most famous river. The trip spans 65 miles of the scenic Suwannee and a portion of the (northern) Withlacoochee, from Madison Blue Spring to Branford. This section features dozens of clear blue springs perfect for swimming and snorkeling.

Flagler Coastal Wildlife Festival
November 1-3, 2019
Paddle with dolphins, meet rescued sea turtles, and float by historic forts as you immerse yourself in the rich cultural history and natural beauty of Florida's northeast coast. 

Wekiva/St. John's River Ramble
December 5-8, 2019
Join us for a paddle down the iconic Rock Springs Run, back to Wekiva Springs State Park, and on to Wilson's Landing in Seminole County as we camp in rustic cabins for the first two nights and at Wilson's Landing on the way to the finish at Blue Spring State Park in Volusia County. At a total of less than 30 miles, this trip is perfect for beginners to paddle camping.

Florida Keys Challenge
January 15-22, 2020
Paddle the azure coastal waters of the Middle Florida Keys, including the length of the famed 7-Mile Bridge, explore mangrove tunnels, and watch sea turtle surface beside your kayak, and enjoy a snorkeling trip out to Looe Key.

Wild, Wonderful Withlacoochee
February 13-18, 2020
Beginning at Lake Panasoffkee, paddlers will thread their way through hardwood swamps and tannic streams on a 60-mile journey to the Gulf of Mexico. The adventure includes a side trip to the colorful Rainbow River and its world class first magnitude spring.

Choctawhatchee Challenge
March 13-19, 2020
Get away from it all into the heart of the Panhandle as we paddle 86 miles of the mighty Choctawhatchee. This is a journey into Wild Florida where wildlife far outnumber humans, and paddlers can stumble upon spectacular springs.  

Suwannee River Paddling Festival
April 3-5, 2020
With camping atop the bluff overlooking two beautiful rivers, our season-capping festival takes place at Suwannee River State Park near Live Oak. The weekend will offer supported 8-12 mile paddling options on both the Suwannee and Withlacoochee Rivers, a concert featuring Paddle Florida's favorite musicians, and educational presentations from regional waterway experts. 
How To:  
Staying Safe While Stand Up Paddling

This video and accompanying article provides a few important ways to keep your stand up paddling experience as safe as possible.
[Read more...]

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