Thursday evening, many people did something that would have seemed unimaginable just a few years ago; they got in the Portneuf River voluntarily.
Dozens decided to hop in on kayaks, canoes and floats, to take part in the first Poky Portneuf Paddle.
“It’s really exciting, I mean we thought, well we’ll see if anybody wants to come,” organizer Hannan Sanger said.
And come they did. Dozens walked down to the banks of the Portneuf at Taysom Rotary Park and Edson Fichter to hop in and float down.
Sanger said the event stems from the Portneuf River Vision and its goal of having community events on the river.
“This event grew from that,” she said. “We also wanted to figure out how to design better put-ins and so this event is helping us test out, everybody that’s coming today is testing out our put-ins and takeouts, and so we can make improvements.”
There’s been a lot of enthusiasm from the community about the event but this isn’t the only chance people have to ride the Portneuf.
“You can float the Portneuf anytime you want,” Sanger explained. “The state of Idaho Fish and Game code says you have public access to all rivers of the state who are navigable.”
But you still have to stay away from the concrete channel of the Portneuf.
The event surprised some, who felt that the river was polluted, dirty and dangerous. But Sanger says the Department of Environmental Quality has been regularly testing the water, which has yielded positive results.
“If it stays at where it’s at, which we’re anticipating, we’ll know we’ve got a great place to encourage people to float at.”
The event’s after-party, which was held at Centennial Park, featured food trucks, live music, booths and contests including most creative float and oldest floater.