Communities unite to launch kayak and canoe trail | Local News
When the Wood-Pawcatuck Rivers were named “wild and scenic” by the federal government in 2018, William Ricker, a resident of North Stonington, said that almost immediately this led to a sharing of ideas between the city officials and nature lovers from across the region who wanted to better promote the natural beauty that the Corridor had to offer.
Among the concepts discussed was a continuous kayak / canoe trail that would cross the river, an effort to improve the ability of area residents and visitors to use the rivers, enjoy nature, and have easy access with many. Water access points from Hopkinton to Little Narragansett Bay. It didn’t take long for leaders to embrace and support the idea, and the Lower Pawcatuck River Quad-Town Kayak / Canoe Trail was born.
Volunteers and leaders from the four communities are preparing to drink at the completion of the project on September 19, with a small opening ceremony and a ride that will stretch from Hopkinton to Donahue Park in downtown Pawcatuck. The program will start at noon in Hopkinton, and participants will kayak from there to a new access point on Boombridge Road in North Stonington. There will also be a brief welcome around 12:45 p.m. at this location, organizers said.
“This is something that is going to provide great opportunities for those in all of our surrounding communities,” Ricker said Thursday. “The city didn’t have a launch before, so this will really open up the city-owned land for public use.”
The new river trail, as noted in brochures that have started circulating to area residents, will begin at the Laurel Street intersection in Hopkinton, near the Potter Hill Dam. The trail will then continue to a 20 car parking area at the end of Post Office Lane, to an entry point approximately 50 feet from the Boombridge Road Bridge, to an access point at a land access along White Rock Road, with takeout outlets at Donahue Park and the Westerly Boat Ramp.
There is a limited number of parking spaces at all locations, officials said. Stronger boaters will also have the option of continuing past the final starting point, covering five miles each way to Little Narragansett Bay if they choose.
First Selectman Michael Urgo said that following the initial talks, city leaders, including Westerly Town Manager J. Mark Rooney, and First Selectman Rob Simmons of Stoneington, have been overwhelmingly positive. , and it was fairly quickly determined that such a project could have immense benefits with little or no cost to communities.
“It’s a great way to create a strong bond between neighbors and to offer something that the residents of each of these four cities can appreciate and be proud of,” said Urgo. “We can’t wait to celebrate what has become of it. “
Urgo said that’s when others, including Ricker, stepped in to help before they could even be asked.
Ricker said the community has received a lot of support, but noted that the project has led to a strong collaboration between himself and others, including Westerly Conservation Commission chairman Joseph McAndrew, former chairman of the Hopkinton Conservation Commission, Harvey Buford and David Hammond, who is chairman of the Stonington Economic Development Commission.
However, one of the biggest challenges in setting up the trail was the fact that North Stonington did not yet have a water access point.
Ricker said the group had located a spot right next to the bridge that would work, but it was difficult to access the property as part of the land belonged to the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation. When they approached Mashantucket Pequot chairman Rodney Butler, Ricker said he was incredibly supportive and agreed to make a deal to help provide public access.
“We were able to work with him and the state to help the tribe receive a ‘harmless form of maintenance’,” Ricker said. The state has granted the request, which under Connecticut law allows an entity to authorize public use of a trail at the user’s own risk, meaning the tribe will not could not be continued by someone using the path.
The new access is already available, officials said, as are the other entry and exit points. An official date for a grand opening has not been set, but officials said an announcement would be made in the coming weeks.
“There has been a lot of effort and support from many volunteers and companies on this, and we really hope the public can enjoy the wild and scenic nature of what this river has become,” said Ricker said.