British Canoeing Access & Environment Workshops

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BC Waterways Env
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British Canoeing Access & Environment Workshops

Post by BC Waterways Env »

Within British Canoeing's Waterways & Environment department we are looking to hold a series of events across the country to engage directly with paddlers on our team's core objectives: securing access to & facilities on our waterways and helping paddlers contribute to environment projects.

We'd like these events to represent a two-way engagement, giving us a chance to tell local paddlers what we are doing in their area, and getting feedback and ideas we can use to form our next steps. Because of this it's vital we make the events as engaging for paddlers as possible - so please do let us know how we can do this. We are especially looking for ideas regarding:
- Where and when would be suitable for an event in your region
- The topics you'd like to see discussed
- Any other organisations we can involve to talk directly to paddlers

My email is chris.page@britishcanoeing.org.uk, which you can use for any related query.

Thanks,

Chris Page, Waterways & Environment Manager (Central England)

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Re: British Canoeing Access & Environment Workshops

Post by Mark R »

What is the overall aim - are you trying to achieve a change in the law regarding access?

Can you confirm that negotiated access 'agreements' and 'arrangements' and suchlike are no longer policy? There has been plenty of confusion in this area.

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Mark Rainsley
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Re: British Canoeing Access & Environment Workshops

Post by John K »

BC Waterways&Env wrote:We'd like these events to represent a two-way engagement, giving us a chance to tell local paddlers what we are doing in their area, and getting feedback and ideas we can use to form our next steps. Because of this it's vital we make the events as engaging for paddlers as possible - so please do let us know how we can do this.
I'd like to hear a clear and unambiguous message that we should go forth and paddle responsibly and that British Canoeing has got our back and in the very unlikely event of a legal challenge will provide the support of its legal team. If you do that I'd even put my money where my mouth is and join up.

Then we could stop wasting time negotiating things that don't need to be negotiated and concentrate on useful stuff like car parking and bankside access.

I know this may not be particularly helpful, and doesn't really answer your questions, but it's going to need more than a bad logo and a daft fancy dress dog to persuade me that the BCU/CE/BC has any relevance.

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Re: British Canoeing Access & Environment Workshops

Post by Adrian Cooper »

[quote="BC Waterways&Env" our team's core objectives: securing access to & facilities on our waterways and helping paddlers contribute to environment projects.[/quote]

I agree, a little disambiguity would be in order.

Securing access = finding places where we can launch
Securing facilities = help with parking and identifying locations for freestyle and stick chasing
Environmental projects = entirely optional, I for one don't make any mess when I am out

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Re: British Canoeing Access & Environment Workshops

Post by chriscw »

Surely a point to environmental projects, which should of course be "entirely optional", is to help earn a welcome. We do of course have a right to paddle any inland waterway we like but it would be nice if we were actually welcome everywhere, instead of just most places, and of course if everyone would just play nicely.
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Re: British Canoeing Access & Environment Workshops

Post by Franky »

chriscw wrote:Surely a point to environmental projects, which should of course be "entirely optional", is to help earn a welcome. We do of course have a right to paddle any inland waterway we like but it would be nice if we were actually welcome everywhere, instead of just most places, and of course if everyone would just play nicely.
To me, any moral pressure to engage in "environmental projects" makes it feel like a community service penance - as though we're "acknowledging" that paddling is a bad thing and that we have to perform good deeds to compensate, which we don't.

Trying too hard to promote a good image makes it look as though we have something to apologise for.

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Re: British Canoeing Access & Environment Workshops

Post by heybaz »

Hi all

I'm glad to see that our Waterways and Environment Team are posting on this forum. As one of British Canoeing's volunteer Waterways Advisers (in Cumbria as it happens) it is something that I have hoped to see for a while.

For me, communication is key. I'm constantly taken aback by the number of paddlers who are not aware of British Canoeing's position on Access; the document has been around since June 2012 and while some may feel that it doesn't go far enough I believe that it is reasonably clear and certainly challenges the view of many who do not welcome us on the water. If you haven't seen it, why not follow this link: http://www.canoe-england.org.uk/media/p ... 012%20.pdf

I volunteered to take on the RWA role because I had long felt that there was not enough movement towards improved access; moaning was getting me nowhere so I'm giving it a go from inside the camp. My position is very straight forward; until somebody establishes that I do not have a right to paddle then I believe that I do have such a right. However and crucially, I acknowledge that there are reasons why, on occasion, it may be better if I were to choose not to paddle. These could be for environmental or other reasons to do with sharing our waterways; I recently decided not to paddle the Kent because it was too low for me to want to paddle, not because of the fishermen obviously having a good day doing their thing below Force Falls.

Similarly I will not trespass at Rigmaden by crossing private land without permission to get to the river Lune, I will however paddle the river when there is water in it by accessing at the bridleway upstream of Rigmaden Bridge or at Beck Foot if I want a longer trip. I might also choose to wait an hour or so if the estate at Rigmaden or Underley were shooting by the river and approached me politely and asked that I do so - I have yet to be on the river when they were shooting so it would be a rare day if they were to make such a request. Why am I banging on about the Lune? Well, it is the first river with a "legacy" Agreement that our Region, supported by British Canoeing, withdrew from. The old agreement was not based on environmental good practice nor did it provide for any kind of equitable approach to sharing the river with others. Subsequently I have produced the Lune Access Guide which I am very grateful to to say has been hosted on this forum and which I hope you will find useful http://www.ukriversguidebook.co.uk/site ... 202015.pdf.
I very much expect that this will not be the last agreement that we withdraw from in Cumbria; some are clearly so flawed that most folk ignore them anyway and choose to paddle based on the principles in the position statement linked to above.

We are just about finished working with the Environment Agency and local Rivers Trust on updating what many consider to be the model arrangement, that for the Keswick Greta. There will be NO changes to the access arrangement of 365 days access with the caveat of a minimum water level threshold at certain times of year but the environmental & conservation info will be updated so that all users have current advice and will be more aware of the environmental issues surrounding this river. Once all involved "sign off" on the new document I will ensure that it is widely publicised.

Sure there is a lot more to do and there some very good people working on it. I truly believe that the great majority of paddlers want to feel welcome on our waterways and while fighting to change the law of the land might be a long term goal, I doubt that it will change significantly in my lifetime. Personally I prefer to invest my energy in working with landowners to gain better access TO the water, on improving access and egress points for all on our lakes, rivers and coastal sites, working (albeit in the background) with the EA, Rivers Trusts, Lake District National Park Authority, local politicians and others to establish strong relationships and enhancing their perception of paddlers as environmentally aware, paddling and generally behaving responsibly, being willing to share and show consideration to others on and around our waterways. And just to be clear - I am most definitely working away from agreements and arrangements where they do not reflect this ethos with the full support of Cumbria's Regional Development Team.

Happy paddling

Barry

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Re: British Canoeing Access & Environment Workshops

Post by Adrian Cooper »

Thanks Barry, a well considered contribution which I am sure most will not disagree with.
heybaz wrote:while fighting to change the law of the land might be a long term goal
I have come round to thinking that campaigning to change the law is a dangerous route to take. (I'll admit that I once thought it was a good idea despite being unachievable)

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Re: British Canoeing Access & Environment Workshops

Post by morsey »

heybaz wrote:I'm glad to see that our Waterways and Environment Team are posting on this forum.
Waiting to see, the answers they give, to decide whether this is just a Ctrl C & Crtl V exercise or an actual willingness to engage with the forum...

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Re: British Canoeing Access & Environment Workshops

Post by heybaz »

morsey wrote:
heybaz wrote:I'm glad to see that our Waterways and Environment Team are posting on this forum.
Waiting to see, the answers they give, to decide whether this is just a Ctrl C & Crtl V exercise or an actual willingness to engage with the forum...
For my part they are already trying to engage with paddlers and by posting here appear to be doing just what they say - engaging with paddlers on the forum.

The Cumbria Regional Environment & Access Symposium planned for May 10th but ultimately cancelled pending reschedule was underwritten by the Waterways & Environment team. I decided, as the event organiser, that I couldn't face having a number of guest speakers turn up only to no audience. That is no audience as in none whatsoever. Not one single paddler confirmed any intention of attending, despite the event being free, advertised on this and many other sites & social media.

I am fully aware that lots of folk are busy doing other things at weekends, not least of which is paddling and we had very little choice over dates but I had hoped that we might get a few paddlers turn up at a half day event, less than 15 minutes from two of the most popular rivers in the south Lakes as well as Windermere, Coniston or Roa Island for touring or sea kayakers. No matter, I have learned a lot from feedback received following cancellation notices going out and will be doing much more to promote / advertise a rescheduled event, ever hopeful that paddlers might be interested enough to turn up and voice their views on environment and access issues.

Whether paddlers want to engage remains to be seen and I feel justified in holding an opposing but no less cynical view ; )

Barry
PS - I wish I could have made the smiley face bigger, bolder & more distinctive!

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Re: British Canoeing Access & Environment Workshops

Post by morsey »

Smiley's are frowned upon by the tyrant leader.

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Re: British Canoeing Access & Environment Workshops

Post by chriscw »

Franky wrote:
chriscw wrote:Surely a point to environmental projects, which should of course be "entirely optional", is to help earn a welcome. We do of course have a right to paddle any inland waterway we like but it would be nice if we were actually welcome everywhere, instead of just most places, and of course if everyone would just play nicely.
To me, any moral pressure to engage in "environmental projects" makes it feel like a community service penance - as though we're "acknowledging" that paddling is a bad thing and that we have to perform good deeds to compensate, which we don't.

Trying too hard to promote a good image makes it look as though we have something to apologise for.
Or it could just be a case of being good neighbours. The fact is that being on the water gives those of us wish to participate the chance to do things from on the water that those attempting to do 'environmental' works from the bank cannot achieve. We as a community of paddlers would also directly benefit so there is self interest too. However just as not all maggot drowners wish to take part in river clean ups etc not all paddlers will wish to and those who do not should not feel under pressure to do so. We all have our won ways to serve in our communities and none of us can be everywhere.

To sum up I suppose as a community we should allow ourselves to feel under pressure to help with environmental projects that is a no brainer but as individuals we should not.
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Re: British Canoeing Access & Environment Workshops

Post by Jim »

chriscw wrote: maggot drowners
Using derogatory terms for fellow water users is hardly moving us towards harmonious sharing of the resource is it?

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Re: British Canoeing Access & Environment Workshops

Post by chriscw »

Jim wrote:
chriscw wrote: maggot drowners
Using derogatory terms for fellow water users is hardly moving us towards harmonious sharing of the resource is it?
I was rather hoping it might raise a small chuckle among our angler friends, after all they are some of our most obvious partners in any environmental projects. If not then of course my apologies.
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Re: British Canoeing Access & Environment Workshops

Post by chriscw »

chriscw wrote:
Franky wrote:
chriscw wrote:Surely a point to environmental projects, which should of course be "entirely optional", is to help earn a welcome. We do of course have a right to paddle any inland waterway we like but it would be nice if we were actually welcome everywhere, instead of just most places, and of course if everyone would just play nicely.
To me, any moral pressure to engage in "environmental projects" makes it feel like a community service penance - as though we're "acknowledging" that paddling is a bad thing and that we have to perform good deeds to compensate, which we don't.

Trying too hard to promote a good image makes it look as though we have something to apologise for.
Or it could just be a case of being good neighbours. The fact is that being on the water gives those of us wish to participate the chance to do things from on the water that those attempting to do 'environmental' works from the bank cannot achieve. We as a community of paddlers would also directly benefit so there is self interest too. However just as not all maggot drowners wish to take part in river clean ups etc not all paddlers will wish to and those who do not should not feel under pressure to do so. We all have our own ways to serve in our communities and none of us can be everywhere.

To sum up I suppose as a community we should allow ourselves to feel under pressure to help with environmental projects that is a no brainer but as individuals we should not.
Chris Clarke-Williams
Location Basingstoke

Paddling Interests:
Touring, Coaching Beginners (I am an L2K), Surf White water trips, Weir Play (I'm not good enough to put freestyle!)

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Re: British Canoeing Access & Environment Workshops

Post by ErewashBob »

Thanks for the feedback so far. I wanted to reply, but as a few people have mentioned similar issues I'll do it in headers rather than using quotes! I’ll try and reply to questions on here in a decent time, but please be aware we are out the office on site a lot!

What is the aim of the workshops?
We want to work better with paddlers, especially in understanding local issues - which is also our reason for starting to use this forum too. We held a workshop recently in the North West, and a recent one in Cumbria had to be cancelled due to a lack of interest. So we want to support our volunteers better in the promotion - and make sure they work for paddlers too. As a team we are responsible for issues concerning access, working with partners on the waterways, building facilities (in conjunction with others) and environmental projects - so these are our key talking points! But we want them to be a two-way conversation, so are open to any ideas. Hopefully they become embedded at a regional level - but we will also try and work with paddlers to engage at any events/meetings etc outside of these too, diaries permitting!

Ambiguity in the access message
We know paddlers want a clear answer on this one. It is frustrating to be unable to give a definitive answer. We do believe:
- A very strong case has been made for there being an historic, un-rescinded, Public Right of Navigation on rivers in England and Wales (subject to water capacity)
- We have not heard any counter-view to the research, other than to restate the views from the textbooks that the research has questioned
- Over the past 50 years (and more) court judgement, the House of Lords and government departments have all made statements and judgements saying the law is unclear
However, we are not a legal authority - even lawyers and legal professionals can only give a view on this. The only way a definitive answer can be given on this issue is if a judgement is given in court. Until this happens we are duty bound to give paddlers the best information we can, and our opinion, to allow people to come to their own view.

Access Arrangements
In line with our current Position Statement on Access (http://www.canoe-england.org.uk/media/p ... tement.pdf) we do try to work with partners and other river users to develop Access Arrangements. However, we do not support these if we feel the conditions are unfair to paddlers, or have not treated paddlers as an equal partner in the process. The Greta, as Barry has commented, is an example of a positive arrangement, and from the feedback we have is broadly supported by paddlers. We are also clear in any work towards an AA that we can only recommend an AA to paddlers, not enforce it (nor do we wish to) – we believe paddlers will support AA’s where they form a genuine partnership between user groups, again as per the Greta. We also believe they should be without prejudice to any partner's view of access laws - so they are there to facilitate understanding and cooperation, not embed unfair access. They can also be very useful tools for helping us secure improved facilities (car parking, ingress, portage, access over land) etc.

Environmental Projects
These are of course entirely voluntary. We'd like to support paddlers who want to organise such events, helping promote their good work, get them equipment, any support needed etc. Some paddlers have told me they sometimes feel a bit on their own when organising environmental projectsThere are some environmental messages we do need to get out to paddlers - the invasive species issue is one example. But again, we want to make sure this is being led by paddlers. We recently put some posts on Facebook saying we had Check, Clean, Dry stickers for paddlers / clubs - and we've had a really impressive response from people asking for them for their boats. We have a partnership with South Cumbria Rivers Trust to provide information on the riparian environment to paddlers, helping people understand some of the ways we can help look after our rivers. But again, we know many out there are experts (especially on local environmental issues), and so we can use these workshops to learn from paddlers too.

Thanks - Chris
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Re: British Canoeing Access & Environment Workshops

Post by John K »

heybaz wrote:For my part they are already trying to engage with paddlers and by posting here appear to be doing just what they say - engaging with paddlers on the forum.
I'm hoping that Chris Page is going to come back here and join in the discussion, but I wonder whether he's waiting for us to email him instead?
Whether paddlers want to engage remains to be seen and I feel justified in holding an opposing but no less cynical view
Perhaps meetings aren't actually the best way of engaging at the moment? There doesn't seem to be much enthusiasm for them, and I'm not sure that many people are convinced that they would be time well spent. Maybe British Canoeing needs to build a bit of confidence by engaging with people in other ways first. Here would be a good place to start, and Facebook seems very popular too.

For instance I was really pleased (and impressed) to hear about what you're doing in Cumbria, thank you for doing it. Maybe you could have a separate ongoing thread here to keep us up to date?

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Re: British Canoeing Access & Environment Workshops

Post by John K »

John K wrote:I'm hoping that Chris Page is going to come back here and join in the discussion, but I wonder whether he's waiting for us to email him instead?
Looks like he snuck back while I was typing! Good to see :)

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Re: British Canoeing Access & Environment Workshops

Post by ErewashBob »

John K wrote:Perhaps meetings aren't actually the best way of engaging at the moment? There doesn't seem to be much enthusiasm for them, and I'm not sure that many people are convinced that they would be time well spent. Maybe British Canoeing needs to build a bit of confidence by engaging with people in other ways first. Here would be a good place to start, and Facebook seems very popular too.

For instance I was really pleased (and impressed) to hear about what you're doing in Cumbria, thank you for doing it. Maybe you could have a separate ongoing thread here to keep us up to date?
I (and we!) are open to communicating through as many means as paddlers want us too. I have had feedback from people saying ideas like the workshops, and the chance for face-to-face interaction would be great, so it's an avenue I'm keen to explore. It's finding a balance between a very large number of local issues vs a small number of events that maybe feel too 'high level'?

It's a fair comment that we need to relate what we are doing more - especially when we do have some good news to pass on!

The work in Cumbria was in no small part due to the work put in by Barry, our RWA.

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Re: British Canoeing Access & Environment Workshops

Post by BC Waterways Env »

John K wrote:
John K wrote:I'm hoping that Chris Page is going to come back here and join in the discussion, but I wonder whether he's waiting for us to email him instead?
Looks like he snuck back while I was typing! Good to see :)
No sneaking! I will try to update on posts when I can - but obviously may be out and about, or busy on a projects etc. But we will try to answer as much as we can.

(Also ignore the last two posts made on my personal account - I was autologged in on the wrong account.)

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Re: British Canoeing Access & Environment Workshops

Post by Adrian Cooper »

ErewashBob wrote: a recent one in Cumbria had to be cancelled due to a lack of interest.
Perhaps a little disingenuous; I think Barry will admit that posting the wrong date and giving short notice might have contributed to the lack of response. Notwithstanding that, it may have been due to a lack of interest.

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Re: British Canoeing Access & Environment Workshops

Post by BC Waterways Env »

Adrian Cooper wrote:
ErewashBob wrote: a recent one in Cumbria had to be cancelled due to a lack of interest.
Perhaps a little disingenuous; I think Barry will admit that posting the wrong date and giving short notice might have contributed to the lack of response. Notwithstanding that, it may have been due to a lack of interest.
No intention to be disingenuous - I meant it to indicate that we (at British Canoeing) hadn't done a good enough job supporting Barry by helping get the message out and making sure it was working for people.

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Re: British Canoeing Access & Environment Workshops

Post by Franky »

chriscw wrote:
Franky wrote:
chriscw wrote:Surely a point to environmental projects, which should of course be "entirely optional", is to help earn a welcome. We do of course have a right to paddle any inland waterway we like but it would be nice if we were actually welcome everywhere, instead of just most places, and of course if everyone would just play nicely.
To me, any moral pressure to engage in "environmental projects" makes it feel like a community service penance - as though we're "acknowledging" that paddling is a bad thing and that we have to perform good deeds to compensate, which we don't.

Trying too hard to promote a good image makes it look as though we have something to apologise for.
Or it could just be a case of being good neighbours. The fact is that being on the water gives those of us wish to participate the chance to do things from on the water that those attempting to do 'environmental' works from the bank cannot achieve. We as a community of paddlers would also directly benefit so there is self interest too. However just as not all maggot drowners wish to take part in river clean ups etc not all paddlers will wish to and those who do not should not feel under pressure to do so. We all have our won ways to serve in our communities and none of us can be everywhere.
I don't like feeling pressure to put a "Check, Clean, Dry" sticker on my boat. I'm not a child. I've never paddled outside the UK, and given the myriad ways in which germs can spread in water, I remain to be convinced that bugs clinging to kayak hulls are as significant an environmental threat as is being claimed. I mean, when you think of all the s**t that must get through customs or blown by the wind or carried by birds across national borders every day...
To sum up I suppose as a community we should allow ourselves to feel under pressure to help with environmental projects that is a no brainer but as individuals we should not.
So where is the line? It seems to me that if "the community" feels pressure, then that pressure is going to get passed on, to some extent, to individual paddlers.

I'm quite happy to participate in environmental projects that are actually of use to the environment, but what can a bunch of people in plastic boats achieve that wouldn't be better managed by dedicated conservation organisations (voluntary or paid)?

You say there are environmental good deeds that only paddlers can perform, but aside from river cleans, I can't see what they are. A kayak is the worst kind of boat for any task more complex than getting a person down a river. And even river cleans... My local club has monthly river cleans, but I'm sceptical how much use they really are. I would have thought that 99% of the cleaning gets done by the river's paid conservators.

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Re: British Canoeing Access & Environment Workshops

Post by heybaz »

Adrian Cooper wrote:
ErewashBob wrote: a recent one in Cumbria had to be cancelled due to a lack of interest.
Perhaps a little disingenuous; I think Barry will admit that posting the wrong date and giving short notice might have contributed to the lack of response. Notwithstanding that, it may have been due to a lack of interest.
I certainly do Adrian. Posting the wrong date was a major clanger on my part - though that was (I'm fairly certain) only on this forum, not on the other sites I used and was corrected pretty quickly - no excuses though, it was a clanger and on the site that probably reached more paddlers than any other.

There was however a reason for posting late here; initial promotion targeted Cumbrian paddlers purely because the venue had an audience capacity of 50 seated plus 10 standing which I had hoped would be taken up by paddlers from our region. Once we recognised this wasn't going to happen I tried to widen promotion to NW & NE Regions as well as several Facebook groups before - in desperation - going as wide as I could by shamelessly taking advantage of this site. Whether despite or because of this approach, it remains the case that not one paddler (or angler or Young Farmer - don't ask!) signaled their intention to attend. As earlier, I have learned from this and will do it differently next time but must conclude that a lack of interest played its part.

Some interesting comments coming out here though and maybe a symposium type event is not for everyone (or anyone!) but there were a good number of organisations willing to attend and deliver what I believe would have been interesting presentations, not least informing and educating those who are not aware of the risks and huge costs associated with Invasive species and how we can help prevent their spread. Any further thoughts on this will be gratefully received and taken into consideration for a future environment and access focused event here in Cumbria.

Cheers

Barry

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Re: British Canoeing Access & Environment Workshops

Post by MikeVeal »

I think access and environment workshops should be educational.

People posting on this forum know all about Caffyn's work and the rights we have to paddle. But we're still in the minority. A while ago I was in the Woodmill shop and a customer asked where he could paddle. The answer given was don't go upstream of the next mill, because the water is private.


I also think that clear communication of the state of access should be a huge part of the training syllabus, for both the coaching and the star awards. We're past the point of debating whether or not we can access the water. We should concentrate on making all paddlers aware of the status quo (not capitalised, we're not in the army now) and that's a message that needs to be trickled down from the top.

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Re: British Canoeing Access & Environment Workshops

Post by BC Waterways Env »

Franky wrote: I don't like feeling pressure to put a "Check, Clean, Dry" sticker on my boat. I'm not a child. I've never paddled outside the UK, and given the myriad ways in which germs can spread in water, I remain to be convinced that bugs clinging to kayak hulls are as significant an environmental threat as is being claimed. I mean, when you think of all the s**t that must get through customs or blown by the wind or carried by birds across national borders every day...
You certainly should not feel pressure to have stickers on your boat. I've been really pleased to see the number of people saying they'd like to, but this shouldn't translate into pressure on others.

The reason for the Check, Clean, Dry push is to minimise the risk of spread once species are here. Many species, once established in a waterbody, can be almost impossible to eradicate. Therefore reducing the risk of transfer can be one of the most effective methods of keeping them under control. So all water users (the EA and Rivers Trusts have clear procedures for Check, Clean, Dry when conducting their operations) can play a role in helping check their spread. Check, Clean, Dry is about embedding a simple process in our paddling routine that helps minimise the risk of transfer.

We would like these workshops to include inviting representatives from wildlife and conservation organisations to help paddlers understand the picture on the rivers in their region. But if people have questions via this forum, we can definitely see if we can get answers too. Maybe a 'live tweet' session with some invasive species experts on Twitter or similar?

The message I get from organisations such as Rivers Trusts and Wildlife Trusts is not one of restricting or blaming paddlers - but a positive one about engaging everyone who has an interest in the water.
Franky wrote: I'm quite happy to participate in environmental projects that are actually of use to the environment, but what can a bunch of people in plastic boats achieve that wouldn't be better managed by dedicated conservation organisations (voluntary or paid)?

You say there are environmental good deeds that only paddlers can perform, but aside from river cleans, I can't see what they are. A kayak is the worst kind of boat for any task more complex than getting a person down a river. And even river cleans... My local club has monthly river cleans, but I'm sceptical how much use they really are. I would have thought that 99% of the cleaning gets done by the river's paid conservators.
It is sometimes difficult to see the potential benefits when see on the big scale. After our recent clean-up on the Trent, the paddlers felt justifiably proud of their efforts, but also that they hadn't touched the overall problem as they could only go so far upstream in the time available. However, even weeks later when I paddle the river you can still see the impact they had on those areas. The clean-up was also featured on the local radio - great advertising for Holme Pierrepont Canoe Club who put in all the hard work - but also promoting the message about taking care of our rivers to a wider audience too. So I do believe such work can have a big impact in the long run too.

I considered whether kayaks would be worth having at a clean-up, but didn't want to exclude anyone who wanted to contribute. Glad I didn't, as at the event Birmingham Canoe Club held with us we had two kayaks along with some canoes - and they were an immense help! They could get right into some nooks in the vegetation to clear clogged rubbish. So whatever your craft you can always contribute!

So other ways we know paddlers can contribute are - wildlife surveys from the water (especially otters and voles etc); water quality testing; invasive plant removal; canal surveys (for example looking at discharges into the system). In many of these being on the water can be a distinct advantage. We are always open to more ideas!

I hope paddlers don't feel pressure to take part - we want to help create the opportunities for those that do, not put pressure on people. Especially with the amount of hours many paddlers already commit on a voluntary basis keeping their clubs running and coaching (and much more). But I would say that the feedback after an event is always how much fun it is, as well as being rewarding!

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