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Nature lovers start 2007 enjoying Chicago River

Thursday, January 04, 2007
Pioneer Press
by KEN GOZE Staff Writer

While many were still recovering from their New Year's Eve celebrations, as many as 200 canoeists were starting 2007 with a seven-mile run down the Chicago River's North Branch Monday morning.
The New Year's Day Paddle, sponsored by the Cook County Forest Preserve District, is a 22-year-old tradition, said Cheryl McGarry, outreach naturalist. Throughout the morning, paddlers started at Forestway Drive just north of Willow Road in Northfield, headed for Linne Woods in Morton Grove, passing through parts of Wilmette and Glenview along the way. Although they enjoyed unusually balmy weather, the event has had a strong following even in its coldest years, McGarry said.
Among participants is "a range of people. Most are avid canoers and I think a lot of them share that common thread of love for nature and the environment and this is one way that they can get out and connect," McGarry said.
Many participants are also volunteers with the forest preserve district or groups such as the Friends of the Chicago River.
McGarry said the paddle this year also became the first in a new lineup of winter programs called "Live Healthy, Discover Nature." The events are scheduled throughout the forest preserve system and include nature walks and orienteering. A schedule of events can be found at www.fpdcc.com.
"We created this passport to adventure and so we have five different events that we recommend people do throughout the winter to kind of fight off the winter blues or to keep from putting on the five pounds of insulation," McGarry said.


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