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Paddling Etiquette.  Several rules guide river travel. Primary is the non-motorized, motorized rule that gives priority to non-motorized craft. A motorized craft must yield to a non-motorized craft. While this rule is in the paddler's favor, it is often forgotten.  Please use caution and common sense when on the water!

Note: This rule does not apply to commercial vessels. (Most tonnage rules) Steer clear of these vessels, and exercise extreme caution

Stay close to shore. To minimize the hazards associated with other watercraft, stay close to shore and away from the recreational boating and shipping channels.  When paddling close to shore, especially in the St. Clair River, watch for fishing lines and diving activities.

Cross cautiously and quickly. When the need arises to cross a recreational or shipping channel, do so with caution by checking in all directions for approaching vessels.

Stay to starboard, and pass port to port.  If you alter your route in response to an approaching vessel, steer to your right (starboard).  This is standard boating procedure. 

Be respectful of other people using the waterway. Stay in public areas, avoid private property.  Offer assistance if another person is in distress.


Angler rights on public streams:  On fenced or posted property or farm property, a fisherman wading or floating a navigable public stream may, without written or oral consent, enter upon property within the clearly defined banks of the stream or, without damaging farm products, walk a route as closely proximate to the clearly defined bank as possible when necessary to avoid a natural or artificial hazard or obstruction, including, but not limited to, a dam, deep hole, or a fence or other exercise of ownership by the riparian owner. For more information, visit the DNR website.


Leave No Trace

Leave No Trace is a national and international program designed to assist outdoor enthusiasts with their decisions about how to reduce their impacts when they hike, camp, picnic, snowshoe, run, bike, hunt, paddle, ride horses, fish, ski or climb. The program strives to educate all those who enjoy the outdoors about the nature of their recreational impacts as well as techniques to prevent and minimize such impacts. Leave No Trace is best understood as an educational and ethical program, not as a set of rules and regulations.

The seven principles of Leave No Trace;

  • Plan ahead and prepare
  • Travel and camp on established surfaces
  • Dispose of waste properly (pack it in, pack it out)
  • Leave what you find
  • Minimize campfire impacts
  • Respect wildlife
  • Be considerate of other visitors

For more information, go to the Center for Outdoor Ethics website.

This page last updated on 5/13/2013.




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Michigan Department of Environmental Quality Financial assistance for this project was provided, in part, by the Michigan Coastal Management Program, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ), through a grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), U.S. Department of Commerce. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration