The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and it seems like the perfect opportunity to get off land and into the water. You pack up your boat, a few snacks, and drive out to a nearby river. But wait! Before you get into your boat, there are a few things to keep in mind. Keep our rivers safe and enjoyable for everyone by following these tips!

Float In, Float Out

Whatever you take with you in your canoe, kayak or river appropriate floating device, should come back to shore with you. Trash and other debris in the water litter the river and hurt wildlife. Consider:

  • Strapping bags to your boat so they don’t float away if you tip over
  • Using refillable water bottles and food containers
  • Avoiding glass containers that can break and be dangerous if they end up on the bottom of the stream

Remember, whatever goes into the river, must come out!

Just because if floats…

…doesn’t mean it is river worthy. Only use floating devices that are designed for use in rivers and streams. Floats designed for swimming pools are usually thin and easily punctured by rocks or branches in a stream. If your float or boat does puncture, please pull it out of the stream. If not, it becomes waste that can harm wildlife and cause problems for private landowners.

Be Respectful

Our local rivers and streams flow through a patchwork of public and private lands – in urban areas, this means people’s backyards. As you enjoy your float down the river, be respectful to the landowners along the way. Don’t get out of the river and trespass across private property. Sounds and voices carry across the water – keep music and voices to a reasonable level so that everyone can enjoy a nice day on the river.

Let Nature Be

Floating down the river is a great way to connect with nature and see wildlife. In most cases, they see or hear you before you see them. While we don’t have alligators or venomous snakes, animals can be territorial or aggressive while defending their young. Be safe and give wildlife their space.

Play It Safe

Be prepared when heading out for a day on the river. Bring water, protect yourself from the sun, wear a life preserver and wear shoes you can get wet. The right shoes will protect you from glass or other sharp objects on the stream bed, which is common in urban streams. You should also know your route and any potential dangers along the way, like a dam or a low bridge.

Know Before You Go

Be sure that flow conditions are safe before you head out. Even if it hasn’t rained where you are, a big rain storm in the upper part of the watershed can send high flows downstream. High flows can cause dangerous conditions such as strong currents, log jams or reduced head space under bridges.

Getting out on your local river is a great way to enjoy a beautiful day and gain a totally different perspective of the river and the wildlife that call it home. Have fun. Be safe. Respect the river and those who live along it.