The State of Minnesota celebrated the first annual Water Trails Day in Minnesota on Saturday with a paddling parade on Prairie Island. Over 80 paddlers took to the Mississippi River backwaters to celebrate outdoor recreation...and dedicate a portion of the Mississippi River water trail in honor of the late Cal Fremling.
Next year Minnesota will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the state's first water trail in 1963. Today Minnesota boasts more than 4400 miles of water trails...more than any other state in the nation. And those trails are being used. Assistant DNR Commissioner Erica Young says Minnesota has the highest per capita rate of boat ownership...and she says 180,000 canoes and kayaks were registered in the state last year alone.
It's big business, according to Tamara McAndliss...she's national director for President Obama's "America's Great Outdoors" initiative with the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
Mayor Jerry Miller says it's big business for Winona, too...and he says the river is an unparalleled resource for local residents.