Friday, July 31, 2009

Is July already gone?

How fast the month of July seemed to scream by. Sandwiched between the hectic pace of work, and the insatiable demands of having recently moved, there are the things I would like to do.

The good news is that the river did not escape me amidst the demands of the month. I was able to get that voyage in with Curt Oien, and another pair of river getaways. The outcome of those trips is a good bounty of garbage removed from the Crow River... along with a collection of photos from the river that I greatly look forward to sharing.

But one of the casualties of the pace July offered... is that I had little time for writing or blogging. Between work-related projects and travel, something had to give, and it was writing. I won't apologize... as I have taken good notes (and pictures) that will allow me to share the experiences later.

© 2009 Mike D. Anderson, St. Michael, MN. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

New places, new faces, and a river with a fan club

When we moved to the Saint Michael area, Paul Nordell at the Minnesota DNR introduced me to a couple of folks, via email, that he described as avid stewards of the north fork of the Crow River. One of those folks is a gentleman by the name of Curt Oien. In a short exchange of emails, Curt provided me with a bounty of information and history about the Crow. He reflected, with a well-deserved sense of pride, about the numerous clean-ups he has seen and participated in over the past six years. But he also cited a number of different organizations throughout the watershed that have made the Crow River the benefactor of their sweat and effort.

According to Curt, the Saint Michael Area River Team (SMART) has been an amazingly effective group. The team has arranged for specific sites on both sides of the river to stack garbage before it is hauled away… and they enjoy great co-operation from landowners along the Crow. They get help from the City of Saint Michael and the Three Rivers Park District... in hauling away the trash that is collected.

The river also benefits each year from help the National Honor Society and the Environmental Science Teachers at the STMA High School. The Boy Scouts and Cub scouts have been there from the beginning, in addition to many other members of the community. During the cleanup, some of the younger Cub Scouts even mark storm drains to remind people not to dump anything that doesn't belong there. (As I've written before, every storm drain and every roadside ditch is a tributary that eventually leads to a river.) The Thomas Family was involved with cleaning the river long before anyone else in the area was doing it. The past few years, their neighbors have followed their fine example.

But it doesn't stop there. Upstream, the Hanover Area River Team has been staging clean-ups for seven or eight years. And last but not least, Curt mentioned the tremendous effort of Diane Sander, the coordinator for the Crow River Watershed District ( (Diane was the other advocate I was told about by Paul Nordell at the DNR.)

Wow, the Crow River is obviously treasured by her neighbors. And Mr. Oien must certainly be among its’ most passionate stewards.

Curt and I have not yet met in-person, but we have arranged to take a river run this Saturday. We’ll repeat the brief voyage I took last weekend. I told him of the well liner and canoe remains that I’d like to retrieve (see the story below), and between his canoe and my kayak, he thinks we can grab them both. I’m confident we’ll either succeed, or figure out a plan that will.

© 2009 Mike Anderson, Saint Michael, MN. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

My first recon trip on the Crow River

On the 4th of July, I had a chance to take my first meaningful trip down the Crow River. (I had been to the Crow once before, but paddled upstream only a mile or two, and then drifted back. It was more of an upper-body workout than a kayak trip.)

Saturday was a beautiful day, weather-wise, with a light overcast sky to protect me from a very intense sun. I put in at Riverside County Park at Hanover, Minnesota, and took out near Berning’s Mill, just east of Saint Michael. “As the crow flies,” the route is only 2.6 miles, but when following the dramatic and scenic contours of the Crow, the route is closer to 5.1 river miles.

I’ll share some really nice wildlife scenes shortly (that’s what made this trip so much fun). And as “people who know the river” led me to expect, there was surprisingly little trash or debris. Only two items justified recording their location by GPS.

One of the objects seemed to be some kind of culvert or sump well liner; made of black vinyl and way too big to toss onto my kayak. The photo to the left is deceiving; it is actually about three feet in diameter, and probably more than four or five feet in length.
The other item, I think, is what's left of a sectioned plastic canoe that probably failed to survive one of the several light rapids near here. If it is a canoe (and I’m only guessing that’s what it is), it is only the center section; the gunnels are missing, as well as the fore and aft sections of the craft. But knowing I would have to return for the well liner, I decided to save this item for my return trip, too. If weather permits next weekend, I’ll bring along my portable reciprocating saw, and take both objects out in sections. (As always, click on any photo to enlarge.)
© 2009 Mike Anderson, Saint Michael, MN. All rights reserved.