Riding the Shetucket River
By Melanie Savage - Staff Writer
Scotland - posted Mon., May. 9, 2011
Kayaks, canoes, rafts and tubes - all are welcome at Ride the Shetucket. Developed by the town of Sprague to encourage use of the area's natural resources, the first Ride the Shetucket was held on April 30. A scheduled release of water from the Scotland Dam, owned by FirstLight Power Resources, allowed for a water level high enough to paddle or tube from below Scotland Dam to River Park in Baltic.
"Without the [water] release, you're scraping bottom," said Tim Dugas, who was launching with friends from a point just downstream of the dam.
The town of Sprague and FirstLight will coordinate a water release once a month during the warm-weather season, with the town providing a shuttle between River Park and the dam. "We work with them anyway," said organizer Lou Dzialo. "They've been really helpful about coordinating the release of water. There are times during the winter when we don't want a big release or it will cause an ice jam."
Sprague First Selectman Cathy Osten recalled an uncoordinated release in 1994 that flooded the village of Baltic. "We work with them now to avoid having that happen again," she said.
Osten said that Ride the Shetucket is intended to draw attention to the Sprague Land Preserve, the Shetucket River and its natural inhabitants, and River Park. "We have such a great resource here," said Osten. "We have tables and grills. We have concerts planned for the summer season at the park." The Shetucket is stocked with both salmon and trout, and plays hosts to a wide variety of natural inhabitants such as fisher cats, bear, bald eagles and numerous other native species.
Ken Boyden, who was just arriving at the park after a paddle down the river, said that the trip took him approximately one hour and 10 minutes. A lazy drift downriver might take up to two hours. "It's a nice trip," said Boyden. "It would be good for families."
The remaining scheduled dates for 2011 are May 21, June 25 and July 30. August and September dates are still to be determined. Water releases are scheduled for 10 a.m., and participants can put in anytime before noon. A recommended launching point is just downriver from the Scotland Dam, on the right side of Jerusalem Road if you're heading toward Sprague.
Since Ride the Shetucket is weather-sensitive, be sure to check the town website the Thursday prior to an event at www.ctsprague.org. Paddlers need to have personal flotation devices and a distress whistle. Call Lou Dzialo with questions at 860-822-6043.