Free the Snake Flotilla to be held in September

Hannah Mitchell, Editor

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Having the Snake and Clearwater rivers intersect in the middle of town opens up a lot of recreational opportunities for residents for the Lewiston-Clarkston Valley.

Friends of the Clearwater will be holding their 4th Annual Free the Snake Flotilla event on Sept. 7-8 at Chief Timothy Park. The event will begin with a three hour program Friday evening that will include activities, educational talks on climate change and live musical performances.

Saturday morning is when the flotilla begins to take shape. Participants will launch their boats from the Chief Timothy boat launch, located at the southwest side of the island. During the launch, light breakfast snacks will be available, as well as a registration booth. Participants are encouraged to bring their own boats, though there are usually extra boats available, as well as motorboats to accommodate the elderly and disabled. A water safety team will also be present and will form a perimeter around the flotilla.

This year, tribal canoe families will be joining the flotilla. The canoes will be launching from Hog Island, which is located on the Clearwater River, about 18 miles upriver from Chief Timothy. Among them will be a large canoe, carved from a cedar log over the course of a year.

The flotilla and the canoes will meet up about a mile upriver from Chief Timothy Park and gather around a floating banner that reads “Free the Snake.”

Afterwards, participants will return by about 3 p.m. to Chief Timothy where there will be food trucks prepared to provide lunch.

At 5 p.m. Saturday evening, Winona LaDuke, founder of Honor the Earth, a group dedicated to creating awareness and support for Native environmental issues and communities, will speak. After LaDuke, there will be more live musical performances.

Attendees are invited to camp at Chief Timothy Park both Friday and Saturday night, but can also just come for the day. The park contains around 60 campsites, as well as trails, a swimming beach, bathrooms and showers. Attendees are also encouraged to bring their own food for Friday night and Saturday morning.

Friends of the Clearwater is a non-profit organization that seeks to defend Idaho wetlands and biodiversity. While the event is centered on the topic of the Lower Snake River dams, the event is free and open to people of any viewpoint. “The event is about dialogue. It’s an opportunity to ask questions and learn other people’s perspectives,” Brett Haverstick, education and outreach director for Friends of the Clearwater said. In addition to that, it is an opportunity to enjoy a weekend of fun on the water.

For more information about the event, visit freethesnake.com/.