Recreational activities in rivers, streams and lakes are enjoyed by millions of Americans every year. Paddle sports and other water based recreational activities have dramatically increased in popularity over the past twenty years. The American Canoe Association reports that 202 million paddle trips occurred during 2012. It is estimated that at least fifty million Americans have experienced canoeing, kayaking and other paddle sports. Of these, at least four million people consider themselves avid paddlers. In addition, specific activities have surged substantially in popularity. For example, kayaking has experienced an exponential growth since the 1990s. It is expected that participation in kayaking, canoeing and boating will continue to increase. The barriers of entry to these sports have fallen. Kayaks, canoes and other craft are becoming less expensive and commonly available through “super” sporting good stores.
As it becomes easier to experience and enjoy these activities, it should be expected that the knowledge and training of the average entry level participant will likely be low as there is no formal training, certification or license requirements for such operators of these crafts. Unfortunately, many new canoe and kayak enthusiasts fail to understand the significant danger created by otherwise unassuming hydraulic structures such as low head dams. Further, hydraulic engineers designing these structures may not appreciate the recreational activities enjoyed in the vicinity of proposed structures.
If you or a loved one has been injured, contact Stark & Stark today.