Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Guide for Paddlers Gets Real-Life Test; Enthusiasts in Canoes and Kayaks Use the Maps to Lead Them through a Race

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Guide for Paddlers Gets Real-Life Test; Enthusiasts in Canoes and Kayaks Use the Maps to Lead Them through a Race

Article excerpt

Byline: CAREN BURMEISTER and MAGGIE FITZROY

ATLANTIC BEACH - About 50 paddling enthusiasts put their new laminated guides to the test Saturday with a 4.5-mile race at Dutton Island Preserve in Atlantic Beach to celebrate the guide's release.

The Jacksonville Intracoastal Salt Marsh Paddling Guide, which identifies canoe and kayak access points, safe trails, water depths, channel markers and GPS coordinates, was designed to encourage exploration of the Beaches-area preserves along the banks of the Intracoastal Waterway.

The guide is coordinated with a Web site that provides trail updates, salt marsh ecology, activities and group outings, as well as a message board where paddlers can share their experiences.

The free guides were released to the public about a month ago and are unique in the state, said Andy Miller, executive director of the Public Trust Environmental Law Institute of Florida, a Beaches nonprofit group that protects access to Jacksonville's public lands and water, and produced the guides.

"They have been flying off the shelves," Miller said.

On Saturday, Miller watched kayak and canoe racers glide by from a fishing pier and overlook in Dutton Island Preserve. He said he was pleased with the turnout.

"The route they are taking is half the map," Miller said, referring to a trial loop that started at the Dutton Island Preserve launch point, headed north through the salt marsh to Cemetery Creek, west to the Intracoastal Waterway and back south to the launch site north of Atlantic Boulevard.

Ken Holton of Orange Park came in first, winning a $40 gift certificate from Black Creek Outfitters in Jacksonville and a $50 gift certificate from Kayak Adventures of Jacksonville Beach.

The two-sided guide contains a map of the Intracoastal Waterway from the Butler Boulevard bridge north to where it joins the St. …

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