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More paddlers mean better portages coming to the Fox Locks

Little Chute Lock
Posted at 6:06 PM, Dec 19, 2023
and last updated 2023-12-19 19:06:20-05
  • The portages on the Fox Locks are worn down and not the safest for paddlers.
  • The Fox River Navigational System Authority received a match grant to fix them. They're trying to raise $75,000 to make that happen.
  • Video shows a run-down portage at Appleton Lock 2 and an improved portage at the Little Chute Lock.

(The following is a transcription of the full broadcast story)

What you’re looking at is part of the eroded portage at Appleton Lock number two. I’m Olivia Acree, your Appleton neighborhood reporter and I talked to the Northeast Wisconsin paddlers about what’s wrong with the Fox Locks portages right now and what they’d like to see done to fix it.

The Fox Locks are a much different sight in the summer.

“It was actually hard to find kayaks for sale because so many people were purchasing them,” said Scott Thomson, Northeast Wisconsin Paddlers.

Scott Thomson has been paddling here for over a decade. Throughout those years, he’s seen the state of the portages decline.

“You can kind of make out some of the old plastic erosion material they put down years ago, but you can see it’s pretty worn away,” said Thomson.

Thomson says trying to portage now can be a muddy, messy trek.

“I usually don’t come through the locks I'll portage around the locks just because it was it’s kind of a hassle,” said Thomson.

Phil Ramlet from Fox River Navigational System Authority says changes will be made at 34 locks with the help of a grant from the Community Foundation.

“There are far more kayakers now than there were even five or ten years ago. It’ll be a much more safe way to get in and out of your kayak and your craft and to move it around the locks,” said Ramlet.

They're hoping to raise $75,000 to build and maintain portages at every lock. So paddlers like Thomson can enjoy the locks safely.

“It gets you out to areas you don’t normally see. It’s just a different way of seeing the world than you’re used to when you’re driving by it,” said Thomson.

The portages will be fixed in phases during the next three to five years.