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Kayakers make a colorful site as they navigate during a previous Paddles Up Niagara event. The 15th annual Paddles Up Niagara will be held Saturday, July 31, at Beaver Island State Park. (Photo submitted by Niagara River Greenway Commission)
Kayakers make a colorful site as they navigate during a previous Paddles Up Niagara event. The 15th annual Paddles Up Niagara will be held Saturday, July 31, at Beaver Island State Park. (Photo submitted by Niagara River Greenway Commission)

Ecotourism on the rise on Grand Island

Mon, Jul 5th 2021 10:50 am

Submitted by Niagara River Greenway Commission

The Niagara River Greenway Commission says Paddles Up Niagara is a family-friendly and safe way to experience the natural areas and unique habitats of the Niagara River. Whether you are a novice or an experienced paddler, you will enjoy spending the morning with an enthusiastic paddling community. Guides and safety paddlers will be on hand to assist and answer your paddling questions.

The Greenway Commission encourages participants of Paddles Up to do paddling in the morning and stay the afternoon for a game of golf, disc golf, fishing at the Beaver Island lagoon, hike the many wooded trails, cycle the West River Shoreline Trail or simply relax and soak up the sun’s rays on the beach.

 Paddles Up founder Paul Leuchner talked about the ongoing effort to restore the ecology of the Niagara River, and how the ecotours will highlight that effort.

 “In the early 1990s, we restored Strawberry Island. That island, destined to be washed away by the Niagara, was saved only through the unrelenting efforts of a group of dedicated environmental scientists and engineers. It was our first success,” he said. “Saving that little island and the more than 400 acres of aquatic habitat surrounding it sparked an unprecedented campaign to restore the ecology of the Niagara River.

“The East River Marsh was subsequently restored, and the only Heron Rookery on the Niagara River was permanently protected at Motor Island. That momentum has continued into a second generation of environmental scientists who are still working faithfully to continue the environmental restoration effort. The kayak ecotours of Paddles Up Niagara will bring the history and ecology of the Niagara River to life.”

 NRG Director Greg Stevens said, “This 15th annual Paddles Up Niagara continues Niagara River Greenway’s commitment to bring the public to the water to experience outdoor fun and healthy recreation. Grand Island is one of several locations along the Greenway where people can enjoy multiple forms of active recreation and world-class water sports, with beautiful scenery. We are excited to be working with the town toward a vision of an active, outdoor recreation-based economic development and higher-quality green infrastructure for everyone to enjoy.”

He added, “Currently, we are working on demarcating an 18-mile shoreline trail loop connecting the north and south bridge to the West River Shoreline Trail and through the town center, providing options for recreational cycling as well as commuting road cyclists headed for Niagara Falls or Buffalo.”

Grand Island is just four miles from Niagara Falls and four miles from Buffalo. It is an outdoor recreational haven for boaters, cyclists, hikers, bird watchers, beach lovers and fishermen. With numerous hiking and biking trails, boat launches, nature preserves, observation sites for birders, plenty of water access points and a great public beach, there is something for everyone. The town welcomes all visitors to take advantage of the wealth of natural resources and outdoor recreation activities it has to offer.

To view town maps of trails and parks, visit http://www.grand-island.ny.us/maps/engineering/index.php.

Nesting Great Blue Herons are found at the Motor Island Wildlife Management Area. During Paddles Up Niagara on Saturday, July 31, ecotour guides will interpret plants and animal life as they lead a group of 15 through habitats around Beaver Island. (Photo by Paul Leuchner)

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