TopKayaker.Net's Guide To Nature Issues For Kayakers

The Charles

Visit & VolunteerCharles River Watershed Association (CRWA)

One of the country's first watershed organizations, CRWA was formed in 1965 in response to public concern about the declining condition of the Charles.

Since its earliest days of advocacy, CRWA has figured prominently in major clean-up and watershed protection efforts, working with government officials and citizen groups from 35 Massachusetts watershed towns from Hopkinton to Boston.

Initiatives over the last three decades have dramatically improved the quality of water in the watershed and approaches to water resource management.

Volunteers help with these efforts. Join CRWA:

Charles River Watershed Association...
Develops a sound, science-based understanding of interactions in the watershed...

Defines long-term, cutting-edge solutions to watershed problems;
Promotes sustainable watershed management practices with government agencies and private entities...

Advocates protection, revitalization, and expansion of public parklands along the Charles...

[Image]THE CHARLES RIVER: Exploring nature & history on foot & canoe
by Ron McAdow

Bliss Publishing ISBN 0962514454


If you live in or visit the Boston area don't miss your chance to paddle into the past and the natural beauty of Massachusetts.

Even in the middle of urban and suburban sprawl this river is a greenway of wild life and solitude that few Bostonians know to take advantage of.

The Charles:
A Reminiscence

by Tom Holtey

As a young man I worked one my first jobs at the Charles River Canoe Service. On slow days, rainy mostly, we were instructed to paddle out on the river and get to know it so we could advise the many customers about navigating it and what they may find along the way.

We were given a trash bag and told that while we were exploring we should pick up any trash that we may encounter. It was fun, sort of like an aquatic scavenger hunt, plucking floating bottles from the water, plastic bags from overhanging tree branches and all sorts of god-knows-what. It was a goal with measurable results that gave an additional reason to be out on the water.

The CharlesCRCS (now Charles River Canoe & Kayak) took this a step further and offered a discount to canoe renters who could bring in a bag of "river salvage trash" after their rental period. Many took up the challenge and on plenty of occasions a canoe would pull up to the rental dock laden with a full cargo of tires, jugs, bottles, cans and an assortment of semi-unidentifiable stuff, including a good coating of river bottom muck and pond weeds. It was their part to "land it" then us employees would have to haul it over to the dumpster.

That seems so long ago to me. The canoe service no longer offers this discount. Last weekend Athena & I returned with our kayaks for a "stroll" down The Charles; A beautiful contrast to the city that surrounds it. Canada geese abounded; a hawk soard. Just as we noticed a little something floating...cattail cotton...a red-winged blackbird swooped down to claim it. The Charles is considerably cleaner than it was. Indeed the river has made a dramatic come back from the darker days of the 1960s and before. (Thanks mainly to the Charles River Watershed Association.)

So while I would like to believe that all the trash has been picked up, I am sure that there is a new crop every season waiting for kids and adults to join in the scavenger hunt.

canoeWhile picking up the flotsam and jetsam of wayward trash is only the tip of the "clean water iceberg" it is a step that any paddler can take and the result is highly visible. So while paddling bring along a sack to stuff some found "booty" into. Join in a beach clean up day; a kayak will take you to places where the beachcombers cannot go.

I was happy to find, upon moving to Hawaii and participating in the local kayak club, that it was their practice to have members carry a "trash" bag along for the ride. You or your club can make a difference by adding this to any trip routine. We now list in our club directory, side by side, water quality organizations that welcome your support.

Of course there are many other ways to support clean water efforts. You can also join a group or association, give your support in dollars, vote with wisdom, and maybe more importantly make every day decisions in your life about what you do, use and buy that may effect the quality of the water we paddle in.

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