This blog is designed to highlight the paddling opportunities within South Dakota, mainly within a 50-mile radius of Sioux Falls. While Sioux Falls is far from the adventure of coastal regions, there is a certain satisfaction in utilizing the available waterways to observe weather, water conditions, and the landscape along the shoreline. In addition, there is a wealth of animal life on the waters of small South Dakota lakes, rivers, and creeks, including geese, ducks, pelicans, great blue heron, egrets, hawks, owls, perching birds, deer, raccoons, and beaver. Eagles, fox, and coyote are also sometimes spotted.

The sites described are places where I have kayaked over the past few years, mostly in South Dakota but sometimes including locations in Iowa and Minnesota. One of the best sources of information on the accessibility of small lakes is the South Dakota Atlas and Gazetteer, the large map book of South Dakota. Lakes with a public access are generally identified by a boat symbol marking the location of a launching site on public land.

You will notice the menu of paddling locations on the right side of the blog. Each of the postings is linked to one of the areas, and my intention is to provide a continuing review of the places where I paddle. Perhaps these narratives will help readers select waterways of interest to them. Please feel free to offer a comment regarding any of my postings; I would welcome the dialog.

I also maintain a companion blog that describes hiking opportunities within the Sioux Falls area. You can access that blog at:

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Water Sampling at Grass Lake 2010

Each year the South Dakota Canoe/Kayak Association performs a number of public service activities. For the last three years, taking water samples from area waterways has been one of those activities. Dakota Water Watch is the agency coordinating the water sampling for our area, and this morning representatives of that organization provided refresher training for SDCKA members as they set out to collect samples at Grass Lake, about 20 miles west of Sioux Falls.
The volunteers worked in pairs, two teams in kayaks and one in a canoe. Each team was given an overview of their assignment and provided the paperwork and equipment needed to sample conditions at three specific locations on the lake.
The teams were asked to assess the environmental conditions of the lake, the shore and the sky. Their assignments included temperature of the lake, depth and clarity of the water, and taking a water sample for later analysis.
We all proceeded to accomplish our assigned responsibility and then lingered a bit on our way back to the staging area. From departure until returning with the data and samples, we were out for perhaps an hour and a half.
It was a beautiful day on Grass Lake. We gathered at 9:00 a.m., and the temperature was about 85 degrees with moderate wind and sunny skies. The lake was perhaps two feet higher than normal at this time of year.
I did not see any waterfowl or other “critters” on this cruise, although our trip was more purposeful than my typical cruise on Grass Lake. I did come across a school of little black fish that reminded me of Black Mollies that I have had in my home aquarium at times.
A cruise of this sort offers an opportunity to be involved in a scientific investigation of sorts. We were working with specific protocols and gathering data to determine the condition of area lakes. This was the second sampling operation for the SDCKA on Grass Lake. The first one provided a baseline for evaluating changes over time, and this operation today provided interval data to compare conditions.
As we finished our assignments, we cruised back to the “put-in” and had a few laughs along the way. Readers interested in the water sampling activity can review earlier narratives posted under Grass Lake and Diamond Lake

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