St. Catherine Creek to host canoe ride for Second Saturday

Published 12:21 am Sunday, July 4, 2010

NATCHEZ — Nature watchers will have a chance to explore the scenic route at St. Catherine Creek National Wildlife Refuge next Saturday.

And with a paddle in hand, they will also get to test their boat navigation skills as they make their way up Swamp Road in a canoe.

The refuge will host two canoe trips, one at 7 a.m. and one at 9:30 a.m., as riders make their way to a cypress swamp for the refuge’s monthly Second Saturday event. Refuge Manager Bob Strader said there would be plenty of wildlife to observe on the trip.

“People will see all kinds of birds, alligators, fish and snakes. None of it is dangerous by any means. We couldn’t afford to take people if it were dangerous,” Strader said.

Strader said the refuge originally planned to take its guests out to Gilliard Lake, but the Mississippi River was not forecasted to drop to a low enough level to make it easy enough to navigate there.

“The cypress swamp we’re visiting, waiting birds use it as a rookery. It’s incredibly beautiful,” Strader said.

And Strader said the trip targets both bird watchers and people that like to canoe.

“It’s an easy trip on flat water and no currents. We’ll also give people some (canoeing) lessons, if they’re not too crazy to where they’d tip the canoe over,” Strader joked.

Even though interest has been lacking in the refuge’s Second Saturday events thus far, Strader said he expects that will change with two canoeing trips.

“People enjoy riding in them, because it’s quiet and peaceful along the water. You can also get up to areas you can’t usually get up to on a motorboat or walking,” he said.

With personnel stretched thin this summer, Strader said refuge management isn’t planning many events outside of the Second Saturdays for the near future.

“We only have 10 employees here, plus summer interns. Two of our workers have gone down to help with the oil spill, so we’re really stretched pretty tight as far as summer events,” Strader said.

“Our Second Saturday in August will be a big deal as far as bird watchers. We’re having the Mississippi Ornithological Association coming here for their summer meetings, so we’re excited about that.”

Although the canoeing event is free, Strader said people interested in the event have to call and make reservations. For more information, or to sign up, call 601-442-6696. Minors must be accompanied by adults on the trip.