Paddlefest promotes Mahoning River

LEAVITTSBURG — Dozens of kayakers came out Saturday to Canoe City Metro Park for the first Paddlefest on the Mahoning River.

The event was hosted by the Trumbull County MetroParks in partnership with Mahoning River Adventures, which opened Memorial Day weekend 2018 and was using Paddlefest to kick off its second year.

“My husband, Brad (McBride) is from here and we saw that there was no facility for kayakers here,” said Moneen McBride. “We really enjoy kayaking and want others to as well. It’s just easier if there’s a facility for it.”

The McBrides own Mahoning River Adventures, which is a sister company to Burning River Adventures, LLC in Cuyahoga Falls.

“We love this area and saw an excellent opportunity that we couldn’t pass up,” said Brad McBride.

McBride said he wants to get more people on the river and show them the beauty of the area.

Trumbull County MetroParks board member Kathy DiCristofaro agrees with McBride, saying that instead of traveling hours to go kayaking, people should come to the Mahoning River.

“It’s so beautiful here and people don’t realize it’s in their own backyard,” DiCristofaro said. “Take advantage of it.”

Kayakers were in the water at 10 a.m. to free paddle and new kayakers were able to test out the sport for free to help them gain confidence.

“I say go on the river one time and you’ll never see it the same way. It’s natural, scenic and beautiful, no longer an industrial corridor,” said Trumbull County MetroParks board chairman John Brown.

After the festivities, kayakers had the opportunity to participate in an organized paddle from Thomas Swift Metro Park down the river back to Canoe City.

Paddlefest not only was intended to spread the joy of kayaking to Trumbull County, it also was an informative event to promote river education and restoration.

Representatives from the Trumbull County MetroParks and Trumbull Canoe Trails provided information on paddling clubs and other aspects of the park and what they can offer residents.

The nonprofit organization Friends of the Mahoning River came to Paddlefest to promote education and restoration in addition to recreation.

“We are continuing to monitor the water quality and remove debris, but we also want to start an educational program for grades four to six to teach the history of the river and the scientific aspects,” said Pete Morabito, Friends of the Mahoning River board member. The organization will host the eighth annual Riverfest at noon June 2 at the B&O Station banquet hall in downtown Youngstown.

In addition to Friends of the Mahoning River’s efforts to clean and restore the river back to its natural state, Congressman Tim Ryan, D-Howland, recently announced that he secured $2 million to aid in the cleanup of the Mahoning River between Warren and Newton Falls.

“Nothing specific has been determined yet, but we will be clearing trees and debris from the river and will be conducting a feasibility study,” said Zachary Svette, executive director of Trumbull County MetroParks.

The plan to remove dams from the Mahoning River is taking off, and officials say once they are gone, the river will continue healing from years of industrial use, the area will see recreational use increase and economic development will be spurred.

The estimated cost to remove nine dams from the river, after dredging behind them, is about $20 million, but local communities aren’t expected to carry the burden. The plan to remove the dams is being orchestrated through the Eastgate Regional Council of Governments and the communities they are in. They will mostly be removed from downstream to upstream.

Funding already has been secured to remove the dams in Lowellville and Struthers, and Joann Esenwein, the planning director for Eastgate, said funding to remove dams in Campbell, Youngstown, Girard, McDonald, Niles, Warren and Leavittsburg is likely to be secured as well because the project is gaining steam.

bshiller@tribtoday.com

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