In September of 2016 I (Jesse Hieb) had the opportunity to take three weeks away from work to stand-up paddle board the entire 430 miles of the Wisconsin River so that I could create a documentary about the river's history of revitalization. Most don't know the history of the Wisconsin River so here are the key points:
- The Wisconsin River is known as "The Hardest Working River in North America". With 26 damns, 14 paper mills and 43 municipalities that all rely on its river attributes.
- At one time the Wisconsin River was so polluted it rivaled the Cuyahoga River that infamously caught fire in 1969.
- Over the last 40 years the Wisconsin River has been revitalized through the collective work of thousands of people, industries, and governments. Something no one ever thought would be possible. It is now one of the iconic gems of Wisconsin.
I paddled the Wisconsin River from start to finish, solo and unsupported for 21 days while filming a documentary of the experience. The documentary is called Gone Paddling and you can learn more at www.GonePaddlingTheFilm.com. The goal of this film is to tell an inspiring story filled with the personal experience of being on the water. The Wisconsin River is proof that it is possible to care for our natural resources while also supporting the growth of businesses and industries. It proves that it is possible to be respectful of the environment and still make a profit.