National journalists gliding into the Flint River see herons, egrets, kingfishers–and pride

By Jan Worth-Nelson

Last Saturday during the Society of Environmental Journalists conference in Flint, participants were offered a handful of local tours.  One of the most popular was a kayak trip down the Flint River sponsored by the Flint River Watershed Coalition.   Paddling enthusiasts convened at the launch site west of Grand Traverse Street,  where they were welcomed by Rebecca Fedewa, executive director of the Flint River Watershed Coalition.  They were outfitted in life vests and paddles, and then they set out downriver for a 90-minute journey to Mitson Landing in Flint Township. [All photos courtesy of Flint River Watershed Coalition]

Local volunteer Walt Peake said, “We chatted with a group at the end of the tour.  Everyone seemed to be really excited and surprised by the contrast of the industrial stretch through Chevy Commons, to the beauty and wilderness feel through Mott Park and out to Mitson. They saw lots of wildlife, herons, egrets, kingfishers, and a fox!”

Walt Peake’s wife Edythe Peake said,  “It was great fun to be involved.  Everyone was so interested in the river  and interested in getting the story straight that it wasn’t the fault of the river that led to the lead problems.”

The journalists were from all over the country, the Peakes reported.  Just in one group of ten, the paddlers were from Colorado, Connecticut, Los Angeles, Minnesota, and Vermont. “They thought the trip was one of the highlights of the conference,”  Edythe Peake said.

“I think they were also impressed by the pride and passion of locals in promoting access and use of the river,”  Walt Peake added.  And nobody fell in.

The Watershed Coalition, together with its chapter the Corridor Alliance, sponsored a “pop-up ecotourism”  kayak rental program for the first time for the public this fall, ending the weekend after the conference.  Sponsors of the program, Kayak Flint, were Dr. Bobby Mukkamala, 119 GT LLC, and C3 Ventures.  Proceeds were to support the mission and programs of the Watershed Coalition, which “seeks a healthy, vibrant, active Flint River watershed for all,”  Fedewa said.  More information on the watershed is available at

Participants from the Society of Environmental Journalists being welcomed and getting kayaking instructions from Rebecca Fedewa, executive director of the Flint River Watershed Coalition.


Pile of paddles await the kayakers.














Heading into the river at the put-in site west of Grand Traverse.



Almost ready to go.


Kayaks add color at the river wall.



Wildlife became readily apparent: gulls and a great blue heron provide serene silhouettes.


Looking toward downtown (visible building on right is My Brother’s Keeper) from the new bridge behind Atwood Stadium.


Egret and blue heron quietly co-existing..


Viewed from the Mott Park Disc Golf Course.

EVM Editor Jan Worth-Nelson can be reached at

Author: East Village Magazine

A Non-profit, Community News Magazine Since 1976

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