LandTrust leads Yadkin excursion to connect people with the river

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

By Steve Huffman
Salisbury Post
They meandered down the Yadkin River Sunday afternoon, watching as fish broke the water and ducks raced past only a few feet above.
They listened to the mournful hoot of an owl and felt the river’s pull, its tug accelerated ever so slightly by the rain of recent weeks.
“It’s all on this river,” said Bruce Kolkebeck, describing the beaver, blue heron, osprey and more he’s seen from his canoe.
“It’s just an outstanding place.”
If the efforts of those who participated in Sunday’s trip are realized, the river will remain an outstanding place for many years to come.
About 60 people in more than 40 canoes and kayaks took to the Yadkin, putting in at the U.S. 801 access in Davie County and continuing about 6 miles to the Hannah Ferry boat ramp outside Salisbury.
It was a leisurely journey, one that placed an emphasis on sights instead of speed.
The trip was sponsored by the LandTrust for Central North Carolina, a group whose members are working to maintain the Yadkin in its present glory. The river, noted Jason Walser, the LandTrust’s executive director, looks much the same as it did hundreds of years ago when Native American Indians roamed its banks.
The aim of the LandTrust, Walser said, is to keep it in that shape, fighting man’s encroachment whenever possible.
“It’s not about a single day or week,” Walser said of efforts to attract attention to the river’s preservation. “It’s about trying to connect people with the land around them. People are longing to get back in touch with the wild areas close to their homes.”
Walser said Sunday’s expedition may have been the largest ever sponsored by the LandTrust, with a donation from the Woodson Foundation helping pull off the event.
Officials with the LandTrust had a waiting list of people wishing to participate. Everything from canoes to life preservers were provided, the only thing required of participants being enthusiasm.
Members of Boy Scout Troop 442, sponsored by Salisbury’s First United Methodist Church, served as something resembling escorts, going so far as to carry canoes to and from the water.
Walser said that Scout troop (of which Kolkebeck is an assistant Scout master) owns eight canoes, all of which were donated for Sunday’s trip. He said that some of the Scouts even donated their own canoe to serve the overflow crowd that expressed an interest in participating.
“This is a huge group,” Walser said just before participants took to the water. “This is exciting.”
Walser told members of the group that Daniel Boone once lived in the area through which they’d be paddling.
He said that in the not-too-distant future, the river will be part of a “blue-way development” that’s much like a greenway on which people hike.
Walser said mileage markers will be included along the river in the event that boaters have an emergency and need to phone for help. Those markers will also include historical data about the areas through which canoeists and kayakers are passing.
Walser said Sunday’s trip is one of several where people are invited to visit and view areas that the LandTrust is working to preserve.
“About two years ago, we started reconnecting people with the places we’re trying to save,” he said.
Contact Steve Huffman at 704-797-4222 or shuffman@salisburypost.com.

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