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It’s like paddling through a bird-watching jungle with thick cottonwood trees and lots of under brush.

You’re greeted by pelicans, red-winged blackbirds, herons, waterfowl and grebes, all making a racket. You could almost say its Idaho’s answer to mangroves.

The southwest side of Lake Lowell is a wild, isolated canoeing or kayaking adventure right smack in the middle of bustling Treasure Valley. Gone are the freeways, congested streets and subdivisions.

We’re lucky to have such a place in the valley, which is losing wildlife habitat and natural areas with every new parking lot and subdivision. President Theodore Roosevelt created the 10,548-acre national bird refuge at Deer Flat Reservoir, now called Lake Lowell, with a February 25, 1909 executive order.

Enough on history. Now back to paddling. The southwest side of the lake has several parking areas. Just pick one with close access to the water and start paddling.

Way back when I didn’t have GPS, I’d hang a red bandana on a bush in the lake near where I launched. This end of the lake is thick with vegetation and I remember not being able to find my way back to the launch. Now it’s a good idea to mark your launch spot on your GPS unit.

For information about the Refuge, go to fws.gov/deerflat/.

Pete has been writing about the outdoors in Idaho and the Northwest for decades. Give him a shout at pete@getoutdoorsnorthwest.com.

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