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River advocates: Canoeing, kayaking encourage stewardship

August 19, 2018

CHICAGO (AP) — A Chicago environmental group says activities such as river canoeing and kayaking encourages stewardship.

River advocates encourage people to go out on small boats such as canoes and kayaks, instead of just big tour boats, the Chicago Tribune reported .

Engaging in activities on water makes people care about it more, said a Friends of the Chicago River volunteer and events associate, Annette Anderson.

Anderson said Friends of the Chicago River started organizing paddling trips on the Chicago River in the 1990s at a time when the areas north and south of downtown were largely industrial, and the water was much dirtier.

The number of small craft on the water has increased over the last two decades while the river has gotten cleaner and more ecologically diverse, according to the Friends of the Chicago River. The number of fish species is also rising from just 10 in the 1970s to 70 now, the group said.

“We want to show people parts of the river they don’t usually see,” said Anderson.

Companies such as the Wateriders and Urban Kayaks are also getting more people engaged in water activities.

“The minute you’re on the river and see it from a new perspective, you care about it,” Anderson said. “It gets into your heart and you can’t look away.”

Though officials have made substantial efforts to clean up the Chicago River, bacteria-laden sewage and runoff is still going into the water, according to a 2017 Tribune analysis.

Paddlers are advised to wash thoroughly after getting out of the water and before handling food.

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Information from: Chicago Tribune, http://www.chicagotribune.com

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