What started out as a trip down the Eel River among friends last year has led to a grassroots effort to clean up the Tippecanoe River near Warsaw.
In just a little over a year, the Paddlers For Conservation Kayak and Canoe Club has moved from a loose affiliation of friends to an organized effort that has about 75 members and a newly minted non-profit status that opens the door to do more.
It was a year or so ago that Ed and Michelle Roberts and others realized they’d like to have the same ease of navigation on the Tippe as they enjoyed on the Eel River.
“We thought, ‘wouldn’t this be cool to have a river that wasn’t full of logjams that families could actually get in and float down and not have to get out all the time?’” said Michelle Roberts, a leader in the group whose husband, Ed, is president and founder of the group.
“Our main objective is to keep the Tippe river clean,” she said.
The paddle club worked on two sections of the river last year, and over the winter worked to gain tax-exempt status, a move that is key when seeking future grant money.
Already this year, they focused on two areas of the river – from Oswego bridge to Valley Springs and from Valley Springs to Madison Elementary.
At 8 a.m. Saturday, they’ll focus their efforts on a third leg further to the south from Madison to Hidden Lake.
“Our last event, we actually had 25 people, which was awesome. We’d love to get more because the more people we have, the faster we can get it done,” Roberts said.
Saturday’s tasks will involve removing logjams and cleaning up trash that ranges from pop cans to old tires.
Along with kayaks and canoes, they also rely on a flat-bottom boat that serves as a trash barge.
KC Recycling has donated trash bags. Bakers Boys and Girls Club provides a bus for transportation.
She said they’re also working with Grace College’s Center for Lakes and Streams.
Anyone wanting to help Saturday is asked to register online at p4cpaddleclub.com.
No tools are needed. Work gloves and a lunch will be provided, she said.
The group can provide kayaks if participants who sign up indicate they need one, Roberts said. Participants are asked to drop off their watercraft at the put-in point near Madison Elementary and then drive over and park at Hidden Lake where a bus provided by Bakers Boys and Girls club will transport them back to the starting point.
Paddle club membership fees go toward cleanup efforts and they are always looking for donations, including equipment and monetary. Right now, they’re hoping to raise money for a gas-powered capstan winch.
“That would be super helpful because some of these logjams they are clearing and moving away are very heavy,” Roberts said. After Saturday, they’ll start focusing on next year.
“This winter, it will be all about getting our business plan together and financial documents. Then we’re able to seek more grants and funding,” Roberts said.