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Float trip is on, if the ice allows

Members of the Arkansas River Coalition have paddled their canoes and kayaks in rain and shine, and even cold weather.

But ice on the Arkansas River might disrupt plans for the New Year's Float, scheduled for 12:30 p.m. on Saturday.

Vince Marshall, who helped organize the event, said members usually paddle whenever they can, but ice makes things difficult.

"If you can't float, you can't float," Marshall said.

The float trip, which is in its second year, is scheduled to start in the Little Arkansas River. Due to ice, it might begin in the Arkansas River, Marshall said.

The ARC is repeating the New Year's event after its debut last year, when more than 25 people attended, said Wally Seibel, an ARC board

member.

The ARC, an environmental organization, sponsors a float trip each month to call people's attention to the river.

"We think that if they enjoy the river as a outdoor resource... they'll be interested in, as we are, the preservation and restoration of the river," Seibel said.

Nate Davis, president of the ARC, said most Kansas rivers are on private land. The Arkansas River, though, is one of the few owned by the public.

With the float trips the ARC offers on the river, Davis said, more paddlers are becoming experienced. Last year, the organization put 300 people in canoes and kayaks for almost 1,500 hours of outdoor recreation, he said.

"It's not just a handful of people anymore," Davis said.

The ARC has loaner boats available for people who do not have their own. Seibel said the floats give people who have not paddled before the chance to do so without purchasing equipment.

The scheduled meeting place for Saturday's event is near the northwest side of the 13th Street Bridge in Minisa Park. Any changes to the event can be found on the ARC's Web site, www.arkriver.org.

Although there has been a limited response to this year's event, the group still plans to paddle if the weather permits, Marshall said.

"When two or three are gathered together, we'll get out there," he said.

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