by: JONATHAN HOUSE - Dave Porter points out wildlife along the Tualatin River to his family during the Tualatin Riverkeepers' annual Discovery Day on Saturday.More than 200 people gathered Saturday on the Tualatin River for a day of family-friendly paddling, where an estimated 114 boats were launched into the river. But according to Brian Wegener of Tualatin Riverkeepers, this 23-year-old tradition started out as a way to bring visitors back to the once-polluted river.

Wegener himself attended his first Discovery Day 20 years ago. After lawsuits forced a massive cleanup of the Tualatin River, most residents were still wary of using the waterway as a recreational resource. The Riverkeepers established a yearly day trip, where residents were invited to paddle on the Tualatin for an event meant to "establish momentum" and remind people that the river was once again open for business.

by: JONATHAN HOUSE - Tualatin Riverkeeper Sean Finnerty shows Lisa and Sev Scholin the proper paddle technique in a kayak. Through the years, the trip has expanded to include a river fair. And Wegener adds that the demographic of participants has changed as well.

Whereas most boaters have historically been "empty nesters," more and more families with children attend each year. To that end, Saturday's event featured Riverkeeper trip leaders on hand to ensure safety, and a shortened boat route for younger participants. Still, Wegener estimates that about half the attendees opted to take a longer, alternate route to Brown's Ferry Park and back. by: JONATHAN HOUSE - Kayakers emerge from the a cove on the Tualatin River, where hundreds took to the water to explore the river.

According to Wegener, this yearly event reflects the Riverkeepers' purpose.

"Our mission is to protect and restore the Tualatin River system," he says. "People aren't aware that the river is here as a recreational resource, a thing of beauty. In order to get people to care about the river, we get them out there. Our best PR tour is the river itself."by: JONATHAN HOUSE - Boaters returned to shore at Tualatin Community Park, where festive activities awaited families.

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