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Environment & Energy

Urban Designers Kayak From Kent to Cleveland to Highlight Cuyahoga River's Importance and Recovery

photo of Tyler Middendorf
Tyler Middendorf is the first kayaker to arrive at Merwin's Wharf in Cleveland at the end of a 50-mile, two-day journey up the Cuyahoga River for the 5th Annual Crooked River Commute.

The 5th Annual Crooked River Commute took place over the weekend as a group kayaked from Kent to Cleveland on the Cuyahoga River and noted how the landscape has changed over the past five years.

David Jurca is an urban designer who founded the 50-mile, two-day Crooked River Commute when he was with Kent State University’s Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative. He said the goal of the event each year is to highlight the river’s value to the region, as well as its improving health.

“This year we’ve seen three blue herons together frequently, more dragonflies, deer crossing the river I hadn’t seen before," he said. "We saw four or five bald eagles along the trip, and a number of raccoons swimming across the river.”

Jurca said each year the group takes footage of the river and conducts interviews with spectators along its journey.

Next year for the 50th anniversary of the Cuyahoga River fire Jurca will premiere a documentary using that footage to show the river’s current condition.