This revolutionary new product will make its debut in the lobby of the Northwest Sportshow at the Minneapolis Convention Center on April 1, between 10:30 and 1:30 pm.
By mounting a small, but powerful and nearly silent battery-powered trolling motor to the blade of a canoe paddle, this group claims to have taken all the work out of canoeing, suddenly opening the popular outdoor activity to millions of people who felt that a trip to the beautiful Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness was beyond their skill level or outside their comfort zone.
Now canoeing enthusiasts can let the paddles do all the work while they sit back and read a favorite book, grab a nap or gaze around at the beautiful scenery found in the BWCAW.
Not surprisingly, a number of canoeing enthusiasts and those devoted to making the world a better place to paddle are up in arms about this product and the harm they believe it will do to the paddling community and a way of life that has evolved over hundreds of years.
“This is an affront to the sport and to the worldwide community of canoeists,” said a spokesperson for the Minnesota chapter of the National Association of Canoe and Kayakers (NACK). “If there’s any sort of motor, it ceases to be canoeing as we recognize it.” (Not surprisingly, the Ely outfitters dispute this characterization since the motors are mounted on the paddles, not the canoe itself.)
More importantly, the NACK points out, this violates the ban of motorized or mechanized equipment in the Boundary Water Canoe Area Wilderness, a ban that has been in effect since 1978. Again, the outfitters insist this invention circumvents that law and that the Forest Service has been approached about allowing the Electric Paddle in the affected area for a two-year period of study and review. (Unfortunately, the Forest Service has refused to comment on this issue.)
Ely Mayor Chuck Novak is clearly enthused about the new product announcement and has predicted a flood of requests for canoe permits in 2016 and beyond. “This will revolutionize the sport and bring millions of new visitors to Ely, the surrounding areas and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Now canoeing this part of the world is accessible for nearly everyone.” Developers have been sniffing around the Ely area looking to develop new hotels and retail outlets to accommodate the influx of tourists.
“This might be the best thing to happen to Ely since our failed bid to secure the 2016 Summer Olympics,” said Ginny Nelson, President of the Ely Area Tourism Bureau, adding that with all the news about the Zika virus and construction delays in Rio, Olympic officials should be having strong regrets about turning down Ely’s innovative effort to win the Summer Games. “We invite anyone who’s interested in having a virus-free vacation this summer, especially pregnant women and Olympic athletes, to make plans to come to Ely – and take up canoeing,” Nelson added.
Ely, Minn., named “Coolest Small Town in America” by Arthur Frommer’s Budget Travel, several years ago, is less than four hours’ drive from the Twin Cities — but a world away. The gateway to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness is known for its miles and miles of pure, unspoiled, drone-free beauty, as well as its sense of humor (especially at this time of year). For more, visit www.ely.org, find us on Twitter and Instagram at #VisitElyMN or at Facebook/VisitElyMN