By Doug Garman
Headquarters U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers joined Wilderness Inquiry, a nonprofit outdoor adventure group, and several other federal and local partnering agencies and organizations in hosting the second annual Paddling the Anacostia River event in Washington, D.C.
The week-long event began Oct. 24 and provided local school students with the opportunity to paddle canoes along the Anacostia and experience firsthand local natural resources such as birds, fish, deer and colorful plants.
Wilderness Inquiry estimates that more than 500 students from 12 area schools participated in this year’s event. For some students, it was their first time in a canoe and on the river. Before boarding the canoes, USACE park rangers and Bobber the Water Safety Dog instructed the students on the importance of water safety.
A similar canoe trip takes place in Chicago as part of the Urban Wilderness Canoe Adventures (UWCA) program sponsored by Wilderness Inquiry. The goal of the UWCA program is to connect thousands of youth with each other and with the environment around them. Organizers hope their efforts will encourage the next generation to learn to enjoy the outdoors, work to restore our nation’s waters and encourage environmental stewardship of natural places.
“By working with Wilderness Inquiry, we were able to share some of the outdoor recreation opportunities available to youth right in their own neighborhood in Washington, DC,” said Bart Dearborn, a park ranger at Sam Rayburn Lake in Fort Worth District. “It’s great to be able to support the President's America's Great Outdoors Initiative by making these children aware of the opportunities available to them. Maybe they will tell their family and friends about their experience, and hopefully return to their local park to enjoy the outdoors.”
Wilderness Inquiry intends to expand the UWCA program by hosting similar canoe trips in 20 other cities by 2020.