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Canoeing for clean waterways

Symmes Creek and the Ohio River will provide two contrasting experiences as boaters clean-up the waterways Saturday during the fifth-annual Symmes Creek Canoe Caper.

The caper, hosted by the Symmes Creek Restoration Committee, begins at 9:30 a.m. at the Symmes Creek Boat Ramp in Chesapeake.

"The whole thing is about letting people know about the creek and cleaning up the waterways," Grayson Thornton, committee chairman and 10-year member, said. "It is usually an enormous amount of fun whether you get in a canoe or not."

The Canoe Caper has grown each year. This year participants will paddle about a mile and half farther down Symmes Creek, he said.

There are two separate phases in which paddlers can participate in one or both.

Boaters will be transported to the Booth-Eaton Road Bridge where the first 90-minute trip will begin. Along the way to the Chesapeake Ramp, canoeists will pick up trash on the creek.

The second phase is a four-mile trip from the Chesapeake Ramp down the Ohio River to the Multi-Purpose Senior Center in Sybene, where the Windsor Grange will have lunch waiting.

Canoes and life jackets will be provided by committee members and Boy Scout Troop 115 of South Point. However, everyone is encouraged to bring their own canoes or kayaks.

The group's motto is to "get Symmes Creek clean" and they hope to encourage people to stop throwing litter in the creek, Thornton said.

"It is enlightening to see how much trash is in the creek and how much wildlife is there despite the conditions," he said.

Seeing turtles, ducks, muskrats and other wildlife "shows you why should want to clean this area up," Thornton said.

Safety will not be a problem because they have many expert canoeists and people trained in First Aid, said Art Ferguson, a co-founder and committee secretary.

"In all the years, we have never had had any injuries," Ferguson said. "We look at safety very carefully."

Other founders Clyde Pinson, Richard Meyers and Ralph McConnell, are also still active in the group.

Ferguson said they started the restoration committee in 1977 after they took a canoe trip down Symmes Creek in honor of the U.S. Bicentennial.

"That trip awakened us to the value of the creek and we wanted to see it preserved," Ferguson said, "We felt the creek should have the attention to make it a recreational stream.

"I always say that canoeing is a good walk in the woods, but you are sitting down."

Since then, the committee has worked toward beatifying Symmes Creek and other local waterways. They meet at noon the first Monday of every month at the Grandview Inn in South Point. Michael Caldwell/The Ironton Tribune