Some 150 paddlers will head down a 120-mile stretch of Oregon's Willamette River in September as part of Willametter Riverkeeper's Paddle Oregon event. In its third year, Paddle Oregon provides canoeists and kayakers an educational river experience that incorporates information about the Willamette River's history and ecology. The event is designed for paddlers of all abilities, and not only educates participants about the river, but also provides an opportunity to refine and expand paddling skills. This year, organizers are asking that paddlers have experience on moving water.

Paddle Oregon also provides an opportunity to highlight the beauty of the river and to increase overall understanding of it throughout the region. With a massive group of paddlers of all ages spending five days on the river, the event enables paddlers to interact with people from towns and cities all along the route. The group camps at Oregon State Parks, local City Parks, and on private lands. Meals are fully catered, and camp gear and other necessities are shuttled between camp sites. Last year’s trip saw paddlers that ranged in age from 20 to 78. Even with a long day of 29 miles, everyone made it downriver without a problem.

“Our goal was to get people out on the river to experience it and learn about it. This river is perfect for new and seasoned paddlers alike. As this event has grown, we have brought a lot of new people to canoeing and kayaking,” said Travis Williams, director of Willamette Riverkeeper. In addition to being a signature event, Paddle Oregon functions as a fundraiser for Willamette Riverkeeper. A good portion of the 2003 registration fee of $425 goes to support Willamette Riverkeeper’s river education program. Paddle Oregon also benefits from the generosity of local paddle shops, volunteers, and Oregon State Parks. For more information or to register for the Sept. 8-12 paddle, contact Willamette Riverkeeper at (503)-223-6418, or check the Web site