Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Canoeing the Kinnickinnic

Over the weekend I participated in a canoe tour of the lower KK River sponsored by the Urban Ecology Center and led by UEC staffer Chad Thomack. We put in at the public boat launch across from the Hoan Bridge.

The canoe trip was partially funded by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. The GLRI is an action plan developed by 11 federal agencies. Its mission is to clean up toxic pollution, combat invasive species, and protect watersheds in the Great Lakes region from polluted runoff.

The GLRI has identified “Areas of Concern” (AOC) throughout the Great Lakes. One of them is the Milwaukee River Estuary, which includes the lower KK River. The AOC designation was given to the estuary because of several pockets of sediments polluted with industrial chemicals from the 1930s through the late 1970s.

It was mostly overcast and gloomy, but unseasonably warm. Our journey began in the inner harbor along Jones Island. Here is a short photo essay of the excursion.

The U.S. Bank building in the distance seems to be dwarfed by the MMSD stack at its Jones Island Treatment Plant.

UWM's Great Lakes Water Institute, foreground, and the "Allen Bradley" clock tower atop Rockwell. 

The flotilla of canoes making its way past the First Street bridge and a railroad bridge.

A section of the river bank between Beecher Street and Lincoln Avenue has been overgrown with non-native and aggressively invasive Phragmites.

Finally, south of Lincoln Avenue, we reach a stretch of the river bordered by parklands with a more natural setting.

There is even an old beaver lodge, now abandoned, that housed an active beaver until recently. To me it is a symbol of hope for the urban wilderness. 

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