SPRINGFIELD, MO — The Springfield-Greene County Park Board celebrated the opening of boat rental season at Lake Springfield Park Thurs., April 15, with announcement of a major donation from Bass Pro Shops.
Longtime Parks partner Bass Pro Shops donated 40 new kayaks of various sizes to the Park Board, for use at Lake Springfield Park as well as in guided paddling programs throughout the year in Springfield and rivers and streams around the Ozarks, coordinated by the Park Board's Outdoor Initiatives program. The kayak were produced locally in Lebabon, Mo. The donation, worth $27,680, also includes paddles and life jackets, as well as fishing gear for use at the catch-and-release fishing pond at Rutledge-Wilson Farm Park.
Representatives from the Park Board, the City of Springfield, Greene County and Bass Pro Shops were on-hand for the donation presentation.
Lake Springfield Park’s 2021 rental season is daily, weather permitting, April 15-October 15. Anyone 18 yrs. and older may rent kayaks, canoes and stand-up paddleboards from Lake Springfield Boathouse for $10-$12/hour. Details at ParkBoard.org/LakeSpringfield.
Starting in May, the Park Board launches two new paddling programs at Lake Springfield Park.
Intro to Kayaking begins May 15-16, teaching beginner safety tips and paddle strokes before getting out on the lake for guided practice time. The program continues on select weekends through July 10.
Also starting May 15-16, the Park Board program offers new shuttle service to the Crighton Access on the James River. On select weekends through July 10, paddlers renting boats from Lake Springfield Boathouse may be shuttled to Crighton Access, about 5 miles upstream on the James River, and float back to Lake Springfield Park, a trip that takes 3-4 hours. Park Board staff will accompany paddlers on this trip. More information on these experiences is at ParkBoard.org/Outdoor.
Lake Springfield Park processed more than 4,000 canoe, kayak and stand-up paddleboard rentals in 2020, up 25 percent over 2019 — despite the season opening a month late due to pandemic-related closures. The Park Board is anticipating another busy season this year.
Selected quotes from the event:
Carolyn Gerdes, Chair, Springfield-Greene County Park Board of Directors:
“Last year was the busiest season ever for kayak rentals with a 25-percent increase over 2019 - which is why we need new kayaks!”
Matthew Simpson, Zone 4 Councilmember:
“As the father of a five- and one-year-old, I greatly enjoy our parks. It’s one of the things that makes living in Springfield so great and a better place to live, as well as the breadth of programs that are offered. It’s one of the many ways we are connecting our residents with the nature around them.”
Ken McClure, Springfield Mayor:
“These parks are for us, for our residents, for our communities. They are a strong economic driver in our community, bringing in $13-15 million in tourism each year. We don’t have to leave town to enjoy all of these activities, and that speaks to our parks system. Bass Pro Shops is a great asset to our community and invaluable partner.”
Bob Dixon, Presiding Commissioner, Greene County:
“We have a deep appreciation for Bass Pro Shops for this donation. Today is a great example and demonstration of partnership between our county, our city, our Greenways and our homegrown companies like Bass Pro Shops.”
Bob Ziehmer, Senior Director of Conservation, Bass Pro Shops:
"This donation embodies Bass Pro Shops’ mission to inspire everyone to enjoy, love and conserve the great outdoors. ...If there has been a silver lining, the outdoors has provided a lifeline in these unprecedented times. Kayak and canoes usage has increased 35 percent from 2019 to 2020, and that has also shone through in camping, fishing and hiking. We are reconnecting kids, families and communities to nature and providing relief from the stresses of day-to-day life."
For media inquiries, contact Jenny Fillmer Edwards, Public Information Administrator for the Springfield-Greene County Park Board, at 417-224-5510; or Faith Roane, Bass Pro Communications, at 901-406-9504.