Slough ‘Regatta’ returns to outer East Portland

While going for a paddle in the Columbia Slough may not strike you as appealing, see why hundreds spent a beautiful day enjoying this delightful inland waterway …

This is the beautiful setting for the 17th Annual Columbia Slough Watershed Council Regatta.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
After the canoe dock was vandalized last year, it seemed that the annual Columbia Slough Watershed Council Regatta might be called off, or might be held along the western portion of the waterway.

But, thanks to Tri-State Construction, which offered their back lot for the event, this annual outing again allowed canoe rowers and kayak paddlers to enjoy the far NE Portland region of the slough on July 31.

CSWC Executive Director Jane Van Dyke, and Education Director Sheilagh Diez, greet Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz – as the organization’s Outreach Director and the event’s coordinator Melissa Sandoz joins the group, before going for a paddle.

“It was so nice of them to grant us the one-day use of their site,” said Melissa Sandoz, Outreach Director at Columbia Slough Watershed Council (CSWC), and director of their 17th Annual Regatta.

“So far, it’s worked out really well, and I think we have record attendance,” Sandoz told us. “We had 400 people signed up. I’m guessing we’ve had about 500 people paddling today.”

Paddlers find the Columbia Slough is a clean and safe waterway, perfect for a casual day on the water.

No doubt about it, this is a fun-filled event. Families, folks with intrepid dogs, and other individuals enjoyed the waterway, enhanced by the inverted reflection of distant Mt. Hood.

“It’s definitely a lot of fun,” Sandoz agreed. “But the reason this event started was to showcase the Columbia Slough as a place to come and enjoy recreation throughout the year.  Thanks to the work and cooperation of our volunteers, industries in the area, and the Portland Bureau of Environmental Services, the Columbia Slough is cleaner that it’s been in 30 years. The regatta is a way to show this to first-time visitors.”

Emma Gagliano and Guodace go for a paddle with their pooches, Courage and Josie.

With her arm in a cast, CSWC Executive Director Jane Van Dyke was unable to go out for a paddle. “But, the best part, for me, is seeing people who have never been out to the slough take a chance, and find there’s a beautiful natural spot to enjoy, right here in the city.”

With lots of help to get in and out, and plenty of canoes, hundreds of folks find it easy to enjoy this annual regatta.

After the event, Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz said she enjoyed her time on the water. “It’s a wonder-filled event!  And, it’s so good to see many families out on the beautiful, clean water.”

Fritz also commended the private property owner, Tri-County Construction, for providing the access point. “It demonstrates that industry and environmental stewardship can be mutually supportive.”

Zane Sabrina Freewynn exclaims that exploring the upper Columbia Slough is a fun adventure.

Although that site is normally closed to the public, Sandoz reminded that the Columbia Slough can be accessed at any one of a dozen other launch sites on the upper and lower slough. “It’s a beautiful place to come on a weekend and have a good time.”

For a map of all these launch sites and other slough access points – or to check on any of the delightful events they frequently host – see their official website: CLICK HERE to open their home page.

© 2011 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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