August 4, 2016
New paddle share stations bring kayak rental to the Minneapolis Riverfront!
Pilot program will allow park users to rent kayaks and explore a beautiful stretch of the Mississippi River running between North and Northeast Minneapolis
New agreements between the National Park Service’s (NPS) non-profit charitable partner Mississippi Park Connection (MPC), the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) and the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization (MWMO) created a pilot program that will bring “paddle share” stations to Minneapolis’ Upper Riverfront this summer. This exciting initiative will be the first paddle share program on the Mississippi River and the first paddle share program in a national park.
“Connecting people to the national park is our mission and we are delighted to partner with many organizations to provide this recreational experience on the iconic Mississippi River,” said Katie Nyberg, Mississippi Park Connection Executive Director.
“The National Park Service is thrilled to work with the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, Mississippi Watershed Management Organization, Mississippi Park Connection, and many other partners, to bring this innovative paddle share program to the Twin Cities,” added Susan Overson, National Park Service Paddle Share Project Manager. “Our goal is to get more people to enjoy their national park and this great river.”
The NPS and its partner, Mississippi Park Connection, hope to launch the pilot program in late August, pending all necessary permits and approvals.
What are paddle share stations and how do they work?
Paddle share stations are similar to a bike share stations like Nice Ride Minnesota, but there are some differences. Once the program launches, users go online to www.paddleshare.org to reserve kayaks for a specific date and time, review safety precautions and a safety video, sign a waiver and pay for the reservation.
Once the reservation is paid, users will receive a code that unlocks a station on the selected date and time at either North Mississippi Regional Park (near Kroening Interpretive Center) or the MWMO Stormwater Park and Learning Center, enabling them to get all necessary equipment (kayak, paddle, life jacket). Check with the NPS for times staff and volunteers will be available onsite to help explain the paddle share program and share information about the river and the national park.
Users can paddle upriver or downriver, but the rental equipment must be returned to the return station at Boom Island Park (on the southern edge of the park next to the existing canoe racks) before the allotted time is up. All stations are aligned with Nice Ride Minnesota bike share stations so users are able to paddle downriver and then bike back to where they started. Check Nice Ride bike availability and transit schedules at www.rivertripplanner.org.
Cost, funding and other information
- A four-hour rental costs $30.
- Make reservations at paddleshare.org.
- Users must be at least 18 years old and wear a life jacket at all times.
- The NPS and MPC hope to expand paddle share locations along the entire Mississippi National River and Recreation Area, a 72-mile river corridor of the Mississippi River in Minnesota.
- The project is generously funded through a $175,000 grant from the NPS’s Transportation Program and a $40,000 grant from REI. Revenue from 2016 and additional grants will be used to expand the pilot program next year.
“This program is yet another indication of building momentum along Minneapolis’ Upper Riverfront,” said Jayne Miller MPRB Superintendent. “We’re fortunate to have so many innovative organizations and generous partners working toward opening up the Mississippi River to new generations of park users.”
“The MWMO is excited about the chance to participate in this pilot program, to get people on the river and to have them discover the incredible natural resource they have in the heart of an urban area,” added Doug Snyder, MWMO Executive Director.
The location of the pilot program was chosen after carefully studying seven potential routes. This section of the river is close to underserved community residents, within walking distance of multiple riverfront destinations and entertainment venues, showcases a picturesque portion of the Mississippi and does not require installing new river access points.
User safety is of utmost concern. The MPC developed an Operations and Safety Plan that outlines safety parameters and provides criteria for shutting down the system in the event of bad weather or an emergency. River flow volumes, wind speed, lightning strikes and air temperature need to be within specified limits for the system to be operable, and users must wear a life jacket at all times.
Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board
National Park Service
Mississippi Park Connection
Mississippi Watershed Management Organization