We’re sorry to announce that Forest 44 Canoe Rental is closed for business. We want to sincerely say thank you to everyone who floated with us over the last nine years! It was a good run but it’s time for us to focus on other things.
Our business is for sale. For inquiries, please contact Steve at 314-255-7091. Our equipment includes 50+ canoes, canoe trailers, 2 shuttle buses, kayaks, inflatable rafts, our website and business records.
More people are looking for “green” activities when choosing family recreation. Green activities emit less CO2 and have a smaller impact on natural resources. Floating down the Meramec Greenway (also called the lower Meramec) is definitely a green activity. Since we’re so close to St Louis, you use less gas to get here, reducing your carbon footprint.
We think everyone should get out and enjoy our rivers and streams more often. Like many rivers, the Meramec is shared between paddle crafts and motor boats. Paddling is naturally a green activity. By choosing to take a canoe, kayak, or raft, you can enjoy the river AND leave no trace. Compare that to motorized boats, which have a high environmental impact. Motors have their place when used responsibly; newer 4-stroke motors use less fuel and leak less into the water. But if you really want to be green, paddling is definitely the way to go!
Paddling a canoe, kayak, or raft at moderate speed:
-Burns 400-600 calories per hour source
-Is so silent you can enjoy bird calls
-Leaves little trace
-Doesn’t create user conflicts
Operating a 2-stroke 50HP outboard motor at cruising speed:
-Consumes about 5 gallons of fuel per hr source
-Produces noise levels of up to 100 decibels source
-Can dump up to 30% of its fuel directly into the watersource
-Creates wake and turbidity that can damage the shoreline and aquatic life source
-Can result in dangerous user conflicts when operated improperly or under the influence
Paddling a canoe, kayak, or raft is the green way to enjoy the Meramec Greenway!!
Today we’re starting a series of occasional posts where we’ll profile a species of freshwater mussel found in the Meramec River. Just like clams and oysters, mussels are bivalves; they all have two siphons to stick out of their shell, one to intake water and the other to release. The Meramec is home to a very large population of mussels, over the years we’ve identified over 30 species in the river. You can easily spot lots of mussel shells along the banks of the river, which are the remains of mussels that have been eaten by critters like raccoons. Live mussels typically bury themselves in the river bottom, but you may see some laying on the riverbed in slow and shallow water. Its OK to pick up live mussels and carefully look at them; be careful not to stick your finger inside a big open mussel, or you may not keep your finger very long. If you have a Missouri fishing license, you’re allowed to harvest a total of 5 live mussels or dead shells per day (you can take an unlimited number of the invasive Asiatic Clams). There are several mussel species that are endangered, which are illegal to take. Endangered species are listed in the Missouri state conservation regulations. If you’re unsure, better just to leave it. But the Pink Heel Splitter is not endangered, and here it is:
It’s is very easy to identify: 1.)It’s one of several species that have a square wing that protrudes from the back of the shell near the fin. 2.) The exterior of the shell is medium greenish-brown, and 3.)the interior is purplish-pink. Identify all three of those features and you’ve found a Pink Heel Splitter.
The Pink Heel Splitter is one of the largest mussels in the Meramec, growing up to 8 inches long, so its an impressive shell to find. Why is it called a heel splitter? Well, just imagine what one of those wings could do to your foot if you chance to step on it buried in the river bottom. That’s one of the reasons we recommend wearing old sneakers or water shoes when you’re in the water.
It turns out taking a float trip is not just something we like to do in Missouri. On my travels last year, I took a Chinese float trip. The trip was on the Dragon River near the popular tourist town of Yangshuo in Southern China.
The scenery is very different from the Meramec River, but it has some things in common. The famous teacup-shaped mountains rise steeply from the river valley. And around them are rice paddies still worked by straw-hatted farmers and water buffalo, the same way they have been for hundreds of years. The water is clean, a rarity in China these days.
Locals wait on the river’s edge and hawk rides on their bamboo rafts to foreign and Chinese tourists. A ride for a couple of hours costs about 7 bucks a person, pretty expensive entertainment by China standards. The rafts are long and flat, made of large stalks of bamboo with upturned ends, which keeps water out of the hollow bamboo and reduces drag. You don’t get to paddle, instead you get to sit in chairs under an umbrella as the local driver poles you down the river (In China, active outdoor recreation hasn’t caught on big yet). Every quarter mile or so there is a small overflow dam meant to keep the water high enough to navigate. But the dams are just part of the fun, and the driver will carefully pole you over the edge and down a couple feet as you hold on tight.
Floating down a beautiful river in a small hand-propelled boat, enjoying the natural wonders of creation is a human pleasure that recognizes no national boundaries.
Earlier this spring, the Open Space Council debuted the documentary film Meramec River: Miracles and Milestones at the Sheldon Theater. The film lays out the amazing arc the River has made in the last century; from popular Saint Louis resort area, to being neglected and abused, almost being dammed, and finally to the citizen led restoration effort that has brought the river back into tip-top shape today. The film emphasizes the tremendous value of the Meramec as a natural oasis within an hour’s drive of six million people. Here is an excerpt from the film, reproduced with permission.
The annual Operation Clean Stream is held on a Saturday each August. This year it will be held Saturday August 23, 2008. To celebrate this special event throughout the year, we are beginning a special promotion. All floaters 15 years and younger who collect at least 1 orange mesh trash sack full of litter from the Meramec River and its banks will receive a “Missouri Stream Team” embroidered patch FREE! This will look pretty cool pinned to your backpack or just hanging on your wall.
[UPDATE: due to popular demand, we’ve extended the promotion indefinitely, while supplies last!]
What is Operation Clean Stream? Founded in 1967, OPERATION CLEAN STREAM is one of America’s longest and largest ongoing river restoration projects, continuing for 40 years now. The annual event attracts nearly 2,000 volunteers from various age groups and backgrounds, to the Meramec River and its tributaries including the Big, Bourbeuse, Courtois and Huzzah Rivers. Furthermore, agencies and organizations at the local, state and national levels have recognized this program as a key environmental event in the St. Louis Region. Operation Clean Stream is more than a river cleanup project. The event also serves as a public campaign for educating area citizens on the value of clean water and our responsibility to area rivers and streams. (from the Open Space Council website)