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Project: ReWard


Project: ReWard

Several years ago, PaddleBR took on the challenge of turning a choked, unusable waterway called Bayou Fountain into a local paddling destination.  Last year, we finally got to reap the full rewards of our efforts when the first BREC paddle launch was built and opened.  But one bayou and one improved launch is only the beginning.

Bayou Fountain has always been our favorite local waterway, but it’s not the only one that’s worthy of attention.  Ward Creek has also been high on our list.  We’ve led many paddle trips on Ward, from casual day trips to the always fun night paddles, but we always had to do pre-paddle excursions to hack a path through the bridge jams.


For a while, we were managing to keep a route open, but at best we’d manage to partially clear one bay at each bridge.  Eventually, the sheer quantity of tree trunks and debris overwhelmed things.  With our attention being directed toward Bayou Fountain as we worked toward the paddle launch becoming a thing, Ward Creek got left behind.

Slide Area

To make matters even better, a slide area took out multiple trees and made an utter mess of things just downstream of I-10.  In high water, it would be possible to float by, but adding that to the jammed bridges pretty much ruled out leading paddle trips on Ward Creek.  That made us sad, and so, we started thinking in earnest about launching another major paddleway rehabilitation project.

Derelict, by air

Our previous work prying paths through the jammed bridges on Ward Creek was a bit like our original “pilot project” on Bayou Fountain two years before the main event.  We managed to get through, but it was not really maintainable.  To reclaim the paddling potential of Ward Creek in a form that can be maintained going forward, hacking a path through the debris in one bay of each bridge just won’t cut it.  The only thing to do is to completely de-jam the bridges, and that means shifting a massive amount of accumulated logs and debris.

Derelict, by boat

Of course, we did manage to take on Bayou Fountain, and we all know how well that has worked out for everyone.  Ward Creek shouldn’t take five months of weekends to rehabilitate, right?  The only question, then, was when to get around to it.  Well, it seems that time has come.  Word on the water has it that the next BREC paddle launch is moving forward (not yet moving mud) and will be in the general area of the Ward Creek/Bayou Manchac confluence.  With access to Ward Creek looking to improve, it’s high time for PaddleBR to get out there and work on access along Ward Creek.

Barringer Foreman

And so, we are now launching “Project: ReWard” with the goal of completely de-jamming all the bridges between Bayou Manchac and Siegen Lane.  In paddling-upstream order, they are: Highland Road (no jams expected), Barringer Foreman (jammed), the Derelict Bridge by Buzbee Drive (crazy jammed), I-10 (not likely jammed), and Pecue (jammed).  There’s also the matter of pulling enough fallen trees aside at the slide area to make a low-water passage.  This is going to be fun.

Clear Paddling

We’ve got all new heavy tackle for pulling the jams apart.  We’ve got cameras ready to roll to show off the progress.  And we’ve got the goal solidly in sight: clear all the jams!  It’s going to take more than a few trips, and we certainly can’t predict the weather and water levels (“It’s not clear until it’s low and clear.”), but before the weather turns too warm, we should be all set for a full season of fun paddle trips.

Ward Creek

Incidentally, when it comes to major projects like this, we’ve had many people tell us that they’d like to join in and lend a hand.  If anyone really wants to, there is certainly always going to be plenty of work to go around.  With our long days (usually 8am to late afternoon or even dusk) and maybe a three-mile paddle to just get to the work, we’d really hate to burn someone out — better to enjoy a fun paddle instead — but if you’re a true adventurer and want to make a difference via hard labor, we’d welcome the help.  (We should note, however, that there is a significantly elevated number of puns during work days compared to normal paddle trips.)  And with that, let the log shifting commence!


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