By D’Arcy Egan
State and regional officials presented an updated look at the proposed Portage River Water Trail on Monday night in Port Clinton City Council chambers, forecasting that a draft plan introduced in 2017 would become reality late in 2020.
Sara Guiher of Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments (TMACOG) provided a detailed map of the proposed Portage River Water Trail, which stretches 36 miles from Pemberville to Port Clinton. A collaboration of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, TMACOG and the Portage River Basin Council will help to determine safe and convenient access points to the river, proposed parking and educational signage.
“We’ve received nine letters of support from the communities along the Portage River,” said Guiher. “We should have the draft plan ready by the end of November, and launch the water trail by late summer or early fall in 2020 with brochures and signage.”
The popularity of paddling has driven the need for water trails in the area, said Tom Arbour, the Lake and Waters Trails Coordinator for the ODNR Ohio Division of Parks and Watercraft.
“In 2006, we had 60,000 kayaks registered around Ohio,” said Arbour. “This year, there are 260,000 registered, a huge increase. There is a lot of demand for places to paddle, and our water trails around Ohio provide the information paddlers want, such as where to go, where paddling is allowed, the various hazards and signage.”
Hopefully, said Arbour, the water trails can combine land trails and water trails to allow people to paddle, bike and hike.
“We’ve received a warm welcome wherever we have gone along the Portage River Water Trail,” he said. “We’ve been charmed by the towns we’ve visited, and are excited to team up with them to create the water trails.”
Arbour said there has been a great deal of interest in the new Lake Erie Islands Water Trails, which include the Kelleys Island, South Bass Island, Middle Bass Island, North Bass Island and Mainland water trails. Also in the area is the East Sandusky Bay Water Trail sponsored by the Erie Metroparks, and the Maumee River Trail, which features a trail guide produced by Metroparks Toledo.