By: Ava Slotnick, Outreach Coordinatorbridge at Farnsworth

A few weeks ago,I went on an adventurous boat trip down the Maumee River in Grand Rapids with my father and sister. While the trip wasn’t very long (2.5 hours), we saw an amazing variety of wildlife and were treated with many surprises along the way. There was a threat of rain, which provided exciting clouds to watch as we started out with one kayak and one canoe on the flooded river. As we paddled, we passed islands where only grasses and sedges stuck out of the rushing water, where usually one could see dry land. After half an hour of paddling, we saw a Bald Eagle soar and swoop down to catch a fish, right in front of us, a very rare treat. On our short trip we saw at least 8 Bald Eagles; after that, I lost count. We identified many Great Blue Herons, Great Egrets, various ducks, and many leaping fish. Half way through our journey, a light rain started to fall upon the water. Instead of finding shelter, we let the river float us towards the lake as we listened to the magical sound of rain on the water. As the clouds moved away, a double rainbow appeared to the east; Nature at its best.

In general, the 6 mile stretch north of Grand Rapids of the Maumee River seemed to be in very good shape from a boater’s perspective. We did collect some trash, but not as much as one might expect, probably because of the flood waters being so high. The flood waters covered some trash while the rushing water carried the rest downstream. We did come across one juvenile Long Nosed Gar that had its snout firmly wrapped shut with monofilament (fishing line) that had been neglected by a fisherman. The fish had recently died, perhaps from lack of food or from distress. Except for a few beer bottles, a bait bucket, and a floating basketball, the trash was minimal. The river was more pristine than I thought it would be. We often hear and worry about water pollution issues in our rivers but we don’t go into the water and experience just how much the river is alive and has to offer nearly often enough. That is not to say our work is done, but more that there is so much to appreciate about our rivers. When you are enjoying a peaceful river, it is hard to believe that there could be destruction and violence anywhere in the world. That’s what a river does; it transforms your view on life and reminds you to be steady, strong, and peaceful. Sometimes, it takes a grand river to remind you of the important things in life.