As the saying goes, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single canoe ride.”

Well maybe that’s not exactly how the saying goes, but the sentiment applies to the Friends of the Central Sand’s Water Reality event coming up on May 18. It’s your chance to have a great time outdoors while taking an important step toward moving Wisconsin ahead in its long and determined drive to create a better, more sustainable future for our waters.

It starts at 9:30 a.m. at the Lake Lucerne Camp and Retreat Center near Wautoma, and when it ends at 3 p.m. you’ll be smarter, more tired, and maybe even more tan if the weather cooperates. And you won’t be that much lighter in the wallet. Tickets are only $15 on the day of the event, and $10 if you buy in advance.

For this modest amount, you not only get the canoe rides, if that’s what floats your boat, but you help defray the mounting legal costs in the brave battle for healthy waters in Wisconsin. The canoes are provided for free as are bikes, helmets, and guided and unguided trail hikes. There’s a raffle too, and a silent auction, but the best part is the conversation.

A panel of local and national environmental experts will be speaking about the threats to our waters and what we can do about them. Threats like the sprawling factory farms, agriculture and other forces that are menacing our most important resource all over the state.

You’ll want to hear fresh perspectives from Edward Engle, a retired DNR real estate specialist and longtime land champion; public interest attorney Kim Ferraro; Goldman Environmental Prize winner Lynn Henning; noted environmental authors Justin Isherwood and John Ikerd; water resources Professor George Kraft; and Jamie Saul, the legal chair for the Sierra Club’s John Muir chapter.  Top that off with Lindsay Wood Davis, former chair and now emeritus board member of River Alliance of Wisconsin and George Meyer, long time DNR professional and former DNR Secretary (retired).

It all boils down to water so this event is an opportunity to learn and help the cause at the same time!  Among the many groups that will be available to interact and share what they are doing to protect our waters are the PEW Charitable Trusts, the Central Sands Water Action Coalition, Wisconsin Lakes, the Sustain Rural Wisconsin Network, River Alliance of Wisconsin, the Midwest Environmental Defense Network, and the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation. They’ll all be setting up tables at the event and explaining what they’re doing to advance the cause.

Bring your own ideas, along with your curiosity and maybe some extra space in the car for whatever you pick up at the raffle or silent auction. The prize list is impressive and fairly enormous. How about a trolling motor, a fishing kayak, an airplane tour, a big screen TV, a guided fly fishing trip or pheasant hunt or a weekend getaway on Pleasant Lake or the Dells?

Some items are autographed, others are delicious. For instance, there’s a year’s supply of Organic Valley milk and baskets of locally grown organic veggies. And if just thinking about that makes you hungry, box lunches will be available for $7.50 apiece.

You can learn more by visiting If you’re looking for healthy fun and you care about supporting the fight for healthy water in Wisconsin, you don’t want to miss this event.