Transcript for Lewis River - Vancouver Lake Water Trail Video

[Narrator]: Clark County residents are fortunate to have a wide variety of trails and open space for outdoor recreational pursuits. Trails are not limited to just bike and hiking paths, but include water trails as well.  These are navigable waterways which were identified during a County-wide inventory of all trails. With three sides of the County bordered by waterways and numerous streams coursing through the land, there are abundant opportunities to enjoy the County’s water resources.

[Jean Akers, Planner at Vancouver-Clark Parks and Recreation]: They’re already used by fisherman and by motorized boaters and drift boaters and a number of paddlers are already using it. But not as much as they should be or as much as they could be. And the one thing that’s different about this type of trail is that you can float down on a trail and you will not have changed that trail. You’re floating on the water, it’s a sustainable form of recreational use…

[Narrator]: Thanks to a technical assistance grant by the National Park Service, the County, with the participation of numerous interested stakeholders, are planning a trail for a 32-mile stretch of water, that connects Lewis River, Lake River, Columbia River, and Vancouver Lake.

[Jean Akers, Planner at Vancouver-Clark Parks and Recreation]: Early in 2011, we started doing an inventory – Where are all of the access points? How many miles is this? Where can we get the mileage data? The river atlas? We got coast guard information, USGS information, reviewed it all with the stakeholders, tweaked it, revised it, and created these maps through our GIS system.

[Narrator]: To give a broader knowledge of this Water Trail, there’s an overall map on the parks webpage that has been broken up into eight sections of four to five miles. The maps show the contours of the waterway, mileage, as well as access points for optional entry and exiting.

[Chris Hathaway, Deputy Director Lower Columbia River Estuary Partnership]: So, it’s a great resource, and it makes sense for my organization to tie in directly with the folks working on this Water Trail. It enhances people’s understanding and love for the Lower Columbia River and for Lake River, by getting them out on it, experiencing it. Seeing an osprey dive or a beaver along the shore, that really helps people connect to the water and that helps them feel better about protecting it…

[Narrator]: To celebrate the Water Trail planning efforts, a big paddle event was held in Ridgefield on June 2nd, as part of National Trails Day. Participants included stakeholders, canoe and kayak enthusiasts, plus the general public. The two and a half mile course went down Lake River, past by the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, to the Columbia River.

[Jean Akers, Planner at Vancouver-Clark Parks and Recreation]: National Trails Day was a wonderful opportunity and it was the stakeholder’s idea. They thought it would be great to get people out on the water. The best way to communicate the value of a water trail plan is to actually get people out on the water, to see it, to feel it. It was successful enough that a lot of our key stakeholders have now started planning for how they are going to do this again next year.

[Narrator]: Interest in paddling has grown. It is a recreational activity with low impacts to the environment as well as the body.  

[Gail Alexander, Co-owner Ridgefield Kayak]: We like to say, “dip paddle and renew spirit.” There’s nothing better to take your body and your heart and soul and connect it to the great outdoors. It’s relaxing, it’s rejuvenating, it’s spiritual, it’s mindful. You’re going to learn a lot about the local ecology, you’re going to learn a lot about the historical, cultural history of the region.

[Narrator]: The Lewis River - Vancouver Lake Water Trail Plan should be finalized by the end of the year. It will formally designate the trail, identify access points, additional amenities, and improvements. Thanks to two local grants, a guidebook of the Water Trail will be published later in the year. It will contain maps, safety awareness and preparedness, as well as other pertinent information to ensure residents and visitors alike, have a safe and enjoyable experience on the Water Trail.  

[Jean Akers, Planner at Vancouver-Clark Parks and Recreation]: Once this plan is done, which is over the next few months, that the Water Trail itself provides the venue for people to get together, to get outdoors and play, to enjoy a resource they already have. And hopefully, in the coming years, we can enhance that more and provide more access to more people.

[Narrator]: For more information on the Lewis River – Vancouver Lake Water Trail go to the park’s website at vanclarkparks-rec.org or call, 487-8320.