Sunday, April 15, 2018 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews
Featured image: Community members kayak on the Des Plaines River on April 14. | Courtesy Forest Preserves of Cook County
On a cold, rainy Saturday morning, roughly two dozen community members converged on Maywood Grove, just off of the corner of 1st Ave. and Lake St. in Maywood, to break the ribbon on a new, informal canoe and kayak launch site installed in the area.
The launch site, a wood chipped path leading from the grove to the banks of the Des Plaines River, will make it much easier for paddlers to begin or end their canoe and kayak trips.
The April 14 event was also held to introduce the Greater Maywood Paddling Program, “which provides opportunities for organized groups within the Maywood community to connect to nature and water through kayaking experiences,” a statement released by Forest Preserves officials on Saturday.
Elected officials, community members and representatives with the Forest Preserves of Cook County cut the ribbon on the new Maywood canoe and kayaking launch on April 14. | Courtesy Forest Preserves of Cook County
The program, made possible by a grant from CBS EcoMedia, will be oriented at Thatcher Glen Pond at Trailside Museum of Natural History in River Forest and at the Maywood Grove paddling launch.
Individuals certified and trained in kayaking and other skills will lead groups on organized paddling trips. The certified personnel will have access the Forest Preserves’ Kayak Gear Library, featuring supplies necessary for the trips.
Lonette Hall, the executive director for the Maywood Park District, a key partner that helped make the paddling program possible, said that the district already has on hand two trained group leaders. She said that a total of six should be trained by the end of the summer.
Forest Preserves officials said that public paddling events will also take place in addition to the group leader training.
On Saturday, some community members were shuttled from Maywood Grove to Trailside, where they participated in organized paddling trips back to Maywood Grove.
Forest Preserves officials said that more organized paddling trips will take place at Maywood Grove in the future, particularly on Saturday, April 28, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Willie Norfleet Jr., Maywood’s village manager, said Saturday that the new launch is an added benefit to the village.
“This river is one of the natural resources in the area,” Norfleet said. “Now, we get the opportunity to use it to relax. It is now a destination place.”
Arnold Randall, the general superintendent for the Forest Preserves, said that the Maywood launch was selected based on community input and support, particularly from Maywood resident Gordon Hanson.
Community members kayak on the Des Plaines River on April 14. | Courtesy Forest Preserves of Cook County
Hanson said that he has been pushing for a boat launch in the Maywood area for the last several years, adding that the new launch could “create more positive traffic in Maywood for people coming here to recreate” and could “be a vehicle to boost the value of the community.”
Randall said that the Maywood launch is also important “because it fills an extensive gap between the Irving Park and Lyons launch sites for paddlers, a distance of 11 miles.”
Forest Preserves officials said that the new launch and paddling program aligns with the goals of the Cook County Department of Public Health’s Healthy Hotspot initiative, which is designed to increase the “number of places that make healthy living easier in and around suburban Cook County.”
“The places we live, work and play matter to our health,” said Dr. Terry Mason, CCDPH’s chief operating officer. “The Forest Preserves of Cook County is a place that is helping residents live healthier lives by expanding opportunities to connect with nature and be physically active.” VFP
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