EKI on the Kentucky Paddlecraft Registration Rumors

As many know, I serve as the director of the Explore Kentucky Initiative, an independent organization I founded three years ago to promote conservation and active lifestyles fueled by adventure in Kentucky’s outdoors. One major facet of our mission is to serve as an advocate for the conservation of our waterways and, in turn, for Kentucky’s paddle sports community. We do this by hosting and partnering with many different organizations to conduct stewardship events, races, instruction, day trips and overnight excursions. I, with six other Kentuckians, paddled from Cincinnati to Louisville -- 137 miles in 29 hours. EKI assisted in hosting stand up board demos at Louisville Mayor’s Hike, Bike, and Paddle for over 50 individuals. Recently I was invited by Falcon Guides to co-author, along with Carrier Stambaugh, an upcoming book about 60 Kentucky paddling adventures called "Paddling Kentucky.” You can read about more of our projects here.

EKI director, Gerry James at Cumberland Falls. Photo via Greg Davis

EKI director, Gerry James at Cumberland Falls. Photo via Greg Davis

We at EKI understand the importance of preserving Kentucky’s waterways through many means, and we support a number of organizations that work toward that goal. While we don’t support the implementation of a paddle craft registration or permit program, we do value the importance of getting the whole story before taking a stance on any issue. Because of this, we started asking questions about rumors that the Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources is working to implement a such a program.

It is our understanding that no such policy has been introduced into any KYDFWR plans. However, KYDFWR is seeking to start a conversation with Kentucky’s growing paddle sports community on how to address individuals’ needs as paddlers; education, safety and infrastructure like docks and portage trails.

To this end Fish and Wildlife has invited individual paddlers and representatives from organizations including paddle sports industry partners, paddle sports clubs, and the American Canoe Association to discuss ways to address the needs of the community.

EKI will be meeting with the department and we want to hear your concerns. You can let us know what you think, offer solutions, ask questions and more through the form at the bottom of this page.

In the meantime, we hope to see proactive moves within this community. Education, training and infrastructure are integral to building a solid foundation for a dynamic paddle sports community. We need regularly scheduled paddle sports clinics and safety clinics offered throughout the year in various disciplines: stand up paddle board, canoe, kayak, sea kayak. As an organization, this is something we are gearing up to offer on an expanded scale in 2017.  

State-wide boat ramps just don't cut it for launches: we need more paddlecraft friendly docks, sand at places like Taylorsville Lake to launch SUP or surf skis.  There is also a strong need for portages and trails, especially along the Kentucky River. Our feeling is that this should facilitated by paddlers, paddlesports clubs, and nonprofits that deal with outdoor recreation.

EKI's Shara Sumner, an ACA Level II Kayak Instructor. Photo via Gerry James

EKI's Shara Sumner, an ACA Level II Kayak Instructor. Photo via Gerry James

Now is a time to ask questions, to offer suggestions and to seek sustainable solutions that will promote and support not only Kentucky water sports, but Kentucky waterways.

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