The Rhode Island Blueways Alliance is launching a summer-long series of paddling trips on nearby waterways. The series, called Paddle 2010, is scheduled to start Saturday with a tour of Potter Pond in South Kingstown. Art Ganz, a marine biologist and president of the Salt Ponds Coalition, will lead the tour.
“The events in Paddle 2010 will help people familiarize themselves with great areas for flat-water paddling in Rhode Island and Southeastern Massachusetts,” said Denise Poyer, a Blueways board member. “Many of the trips, like the one on Potter Pond, will have an educational component, teaching about the ecology and local history of the rivers and ponds. It’s a wonderful way for people to connect with their local environment, engage in a healthy activity and have fun.”
Most of the trips are suitable for beginner paddlers and families.
“You don’t need to be a star athlete or have a lot of the equipment to get started,” Poyer said. “There are several good outfitters in the area that can rent you all you need for a reasonable price and give you instructions as well. Also, groups such as the Rhode Island Canoe and Kayak Association, the Appalachian Mountain Club and the Wood-Pawcatuck Watershed Association offer instructional classes.”
Saturday’s interpretive kayak trip on Potter Pond will start at Wakamo Park at 697 Succotash Rd. in South Kingstown. The group will meet at the launch ramp at 8:30 a.m., and the plan is to get under way by 9.
“Potter Pond is really beautiful, but it’s hard for most people to find access to launch a boat,” said Ganz, leader of the tour. “We’ve made special arrangements with Wakamo Park and Matunuck Oyster Bar for launching and parking.”
The tour will take paddlers to the northern end of the salt pond.
“We will cover the entire range of habitat on this trip, from the over-wash by the barrier beach, to beautiful woodland coves in the north end of the pond,” Ganz said. “Along the way the group will visit a working oyster farm and use view boxes to see what really healthy eelgrass beds look like. At the northern end of the pond, we will explore isolated coves that were once used as fish pounds. Back in the day, farmers and fishermen would drive schools of perch or other species through narrow openings into these coves –– known as ‘pots’ –– and then quickly build stonewalls across the opening to hold the fish. Remains of these walls are clearly evident.
“Paddlers of all abilities are welcome, as are canoes. The trip should be over by noon …. Afterward, participants are encouraged to have lunch at the Oyster Bar, where oysters straight from the pond can be ordered along with traditional seafood favorites.”
Besides the Salt Pond Coalition, watershed groups participating in Paddle 2010 include Buckeye Brook Coalition, Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council, Ten-Mile River Watershed Council, Blackstone Valley Watershed Council, Wood-Pawcatuck Watershed Association, Narrow River Preservation Association, Pawcatuck River Authority, and the state Department of Environmental Management. Several outfitters are also offering trips, including Canoe Passage Outfitters, Ocean State Adventures, and Eastern Mountain Sports.
The will be fees for some trips. Many tours require participants to bring their own boats, but some organizations and outfitters can provide boat rentals. Life jackets must be worn at all times during the trips.
A schedule of tours and their requirements are available online at ExploreRI.org.