An Annual Paddling Event Returns to the Tualatin River
Updated: Aug 8
June 24, 2023—After a three-year hiatus due to COVID, the Tualatin Riverkeepers (TRK) held their annual River Discovery event on the Tualatin River. The annual event is an opportunity for TRK to highlight different sections of the river to over 100 paddlers. For many of these paddlers, it is their first time on the river. Some didn’t even know the river existed so close to an urban community. This year, the event took paddlers from Rood Bridge in Hillsboro to the Metro Farmington Boat Launch in Farmington.
At the launch point, information booths manned by staff from the Oregon State Marine Board, Oregon Wild, and Clean Water Services were there to help educate visitors to the threats facing the river and the steps they can take to help protect it. It gave me the opportunity to address a complaint I have about OSMB having eliminated the Tyvek tags they used to issue when paddlers purchased their aquatic invasive species permit (AISP). OSMB did away with those tags when they migrated over to their new waterway access permit program. I explained how difficult it can be to find the email we receive for our waterway access permit buried in a long list of emails stored on our cellphones. Worse, the email requires that we carry our cellphones with us. Paddlers who don’t have dry bags risk ruining their phones in situations where a capsize happens. The woman I spoke to was grateful for my comments because OSMB is in a review process right now regarding the permit program. She said the reason OSMB did away with the Tyvek tags is that they cost $3 a tag. I told her that most paddlers would probably be happy to pay the extra $3 than risk possible losing a $1,000 cellphone over the side of their boats, at least I would.
My involvement with the event goes back nine years. I started out taking photos of the event for TRK before stepping into a safety boat role. This year, it was back to photographing the event. Like in years past, I also laid out the information signs along the river with Rob Gray that highlighted certain characteristics of the river.
The weather was just about perfect for the event. It started out cool in the morning—I was chilled because I didn’t realize it was going to be so cold in Hillsboro when I left my house in McMinnville where it was warmer. Once the sun crept above the trees, the temperature at the boat launch warmed to where I no longer felt chilled.
I made my way up and down a section of the route taking photos of the participants having a good time on the river. There were families, older folks, single folks, young couples, people with dogs, canoeists, kayakers, and paddleboarders. It was nice to see a diverse group of paddlers, including different racial groups. Paddling can often be thought of as a white person’s sport because it’s not thought of as an inexpensive outdoor activity, which it isn’t if you invest in a good boat, paddle, PFD, and other gear. As an outdoor recreation management graduate, one focus of mine has been to get minorities more involved in outdoor recreation activities, especially activities thought of as white sports like paddling, snow skiing, and scuba diving. I would like to see the event open up to paddlers with disabilities as well.
The event wrapped up in the early afternoon and was a huge success. I get to do it all over again next year on a different section of the river.
If you’ve never participated in the event, you should check it out. TRK could also use volunteers. Several volunteers had to work a double shift because there weren’t enough volunteers. If you’d be interested in volunteering some of your time on the river helping on such events, reach out to TRK at www.tualatinriverkeepers.org.