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River Recreation Toolkit

Join us in sharing consistent boating safety and river recreation messaging so people can make good decisions, and memories for a lifetime!

Below are sample posts for social media that you can copy, paste, and adapt to your channel’s voice.

Plan Ahead, Be Ready, and Don't Forget


  • In the summer months be sure to stay hydrated and bring water. Dehydration, combined with other environmental stressors can lead to reduced hand-eye coordination and slower reaction times.
  • Make sure you're carrying the right safety gear. Paddlers need a life jacket, whistle, and flashlight (for limited visibility or nighttime). Expect to get wet! It's part of the fun.
  • Oregon is named a “cold water state" because the water temperature in most waterbodies remains under 65 degrees. Be sure to dress and gear up for the water temperature and water exposure. Always carry a dry bag with extra clothes! 
  • Print out a Float Plan to let family and friends know where you're going and when to expect you back. They can call for help if you're overdue.
  • Paddlecraft 10 feet and longer need to carry a properly fitting life jacket and whistle and purchase a Waterway Access Permit.
  • Have communication devices. A whistle is required for paddlecraft. It's also a good idea to carry a cell phone in a water-protective case.
  • Make sure you and everyone in your paddling group know the universal hand signals. Don't wander too far apart from one another and keep a vigilant eye out for others.
  • If you're new to paddling, pick waterways that are protected by land from strong wind, have a weak current, are not congested with other users, and are free from navigation obstructions. Small inland lakes are a great place to start. Get some itinerary inspiration!
  • Do you know wheree you are on the river? Look for river mile signs along the Willamette Water Trail. Signs are placed roughly every 10 miles from Eugene to Lake Oswego. If you need help, let the first responders know the closest river mile to your location. 
  • Take time to research the water levels and flow rates for where you plan to paddle. Gauge your skill and where to go based on this information. Other sections of the same river may be easier than others.
  • Sometimes when you need to "go," the upland restrooms may be closed or unavailable. Carry hand sanitizer, gloves, a garbage bag, and other essentials to contain your waste. Dispose of garbage properly. You can dispose of holding compartments (like a bucket) in a public dump station. The water thanks you!
  • Help prevent bottlenecks at the boat ramp. Being efficient and organized for a quick launch will make everyone happy. Use developed staging areas or vehicle parking spaces to prep your gear and supplies.
  • Have emergency contact numbers on hand. Dial 911 for emergencies.

 Make Smart Choices, Keep It Natural, and Be Respectful 


  • Never paddle aloneRender aid (if it's safe to do so) or call for help (link to LE numbers) if another boater is in trouble.
  • Account for the time it takes and your skill level to complete your desired tripRemember, river miles are different than road miles. The flow volume varies throughout the year, as does the current strength. 
  • Check your route for river debris and navigation 
    obstructionsAlways scout ahead and expect the unexpected.
  • Boating under the influence of intoxicants carries stiff penalties. 17-20% of recreational boating accidents and fatalities involve impairing substances. Boat safe, boat sober!
  • Use public boat launches and avoid dragging paddlecraft down the riverbank. This damages the riparian habitat and contributes to bank instability. Dragging heavy objects of any kind can lead to erosion.
  • Protect nature by using staging areas. Prep your boat and gear in the parking area, not at the boat ramp while others are trying to launch and retrieve.
  • "Clean, Drain and Dry" your boat after every use to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species.
  • Sound carries over water. Keep the tunes at a good volume. This is why something as small as a whistle works well in an emergency. Whistles are required equipment to carry for paddlecraft.
  • Pack out what you pack inUse the garbage container to dispose of trash and use restrooms or vault toilets. Human waste leads to disease and even contributes to algae blooms. 
  • Respect Private Property. The Willamette River is a public resource, but the banks may be privately owned. Assume the upper banks are privately owned unless otherwise noted on a sign or map. Use developed public access facilities to put in and take out. 
  • As you travel the river in a paddlecraft (kayak, canoe, inflatable raft, or boat) and plan to spend the night along the river, it's important to remember to adhere to the 7-principles of Leave No Trace.
  • Invest in a "WAG bag." It's a free-standing basin with a toilet seat and a plastic bag containing waste for proper disposal. (WAG is an acronym for Waste Aggregation and Gelling.)
  • Respect wildlife. You are the visitor to their habitat. Fish and wildlife are also impacted by drought. Learn how you can help.
  • Your boat operation impacts others around you, just as their boat operation impacts you! Share the waterway. Safety is everyone's responsibility.

 Enjoy Yourself, Say Hello, and Spread Goodwill 


  • Spending time on the water helps reset the mind and stabilize positive mood states. The water is calling!
  • Boat ramps are designed with trailered motorboats in mind. Trailers are less maneuverable and the driver backing down may not see paddlers launching or retrieving. Please give motorized boats room to maneuver and back down the ramp. Even better...have a conversation and work together so everyone can enter and exit the water safely.
  • Acknowledge other users around you with a smile or a wave so they know you see them. This helps spread goodwill, is courteous, and is a great way to share the water.
  • Research the communities where you plan to put in and take out. Support the local community with an overnight stay, eat at a restaurant, or grab an after-river refreshment.
  • The Willamette River Water Trail is recognized as a world-class asset. Why? Because of river ambassadors, guardians, and habitat restoration stewards. Consider volunteering and/or donating to these organizations. 
  • Learn the navigation rules of the road to avoid collisions or accidents with other users. The basic rule is, "don't hit stuff." Larger boats are heavier and can take longer to stop. Paddlecraft maneuver more slowly under human power. Everyone needs to learn and practice navigating safely.
  • Water recreation is growing in popularity, so expect crowds in some locations with a lot of mixed-use. Expect to see (and hear) motorboats. When you do, paddle to shallower water. Also, look out for swimmers and practice being respectful/courteous to other users.
  • When you're on the water with other users, communicate your intentions using sound signaling devices, (even waving your arms works!). Learn the basic sound signals.
Common hand/paddle signals
  • Part of boating is all about exploring. Not just on the water, either! Explore local attractions and cap off your river trip with an upland excursion for a beverage or meal.
  • Motorized boaters often need deeper water to operate safely so avoid congregating in the main channel. Cross a river at 90-degree angles.
  • Want to learn about the native flora and fauna and abundant wildlife along the Willamette River Water Trail?

How to Review Imagery for Safety Compliance

A life jacket should be worn (by adults and children) and fit properly.

  • A life jacket should be fully zipped and buckled
  • Video link showing a properly fitted children's life jacket
  • Video link showing a properly fitted adult life jacket

Belt Pack Inflatable Life Jackets are rising in popularity but are often worn incorrectly 

  • This style of life jacket is designed to be worn with the pack IN FRONT, so the user can activate the flotation if needed. Often, the pack is seen on the back of the user, which will push the person's head underwater if activated.

Model Safe Activities

  • Images should not show any alcoholic beverages.
  • Adults and children wearing appropriate and properly fitting life jackets for the activity. 
  • Show mixed users sharing the same space with kindness and courtesy.

Model Responsible On-Water Behavior

  • Example: Paddle groups are tight if motorized boats are operating in the same area.
  • Example: A motorized boat slowing down (with minimal wake) when approaching a group of paddlers.
  • Example: Paddlers and a motorized boat operator waving to each other acknowledging they're seen.

Safe Stand Up Paddleboard Equipment Shown

  • Do not show paddlers wearing an ankle leash on swift-moving rivers with waterway obstructions (root wads, fallen trees, etc.). Ankle leashes can lead to entrapment.  Ankle leashes are designed for use in the surf zone with waves or flat water. Quick-release leashes that attach to the waist or life jacket are designed for use in swift-moving waterways with strong currents and obstructions.

Ankle leash for flat water stand up paddleboardingCanoe with all the required equipment and extra gearCare -canoe and law enforcement contactCare -canoeist calling for aid with a whistleConnect -paddling is more fun with friends!Prepare -Kayaker dressed for cold waterPrepare -Quick release leash attached to a life jacket. For use on moving water.Care -render aid if a fellow paddler or boater needs helpCare -use a floating restroom where available. Connect -Father and son recreating in a kayak and SUPConnect -Marine enforcement making contact with a stand up paddleboarderConnect -Marine law enforcement engaging with a kayaker and stand up paddleboarderPrepare -Kayaker with a bucket. Can be used for a variety of things!Pepare -Life jacket loaner stationConnect -fishing and kayakingCare -marine law enforcement boatsConnect -kayaking with family and friendsPrepare -connecting the buckles on a life jacketPrepare -A good fit is when a life jacket doesn't go above the ear lobes.Prepare -All straps should be snugPrepare -Wear a belt pack life jacket in the front, NOT in the back. Care -Parents need to check the life jacket fit for kidsPrepare -Example of a quick release leash from the back view, connected to an SUPRed kayak in a nonmotorized launch for easier boardingCare -Canoeist helping a paddleboarder get back on the boardPrepare -Stand Up Paddleboarder with cold water gear, quick release leash, life jacket, whistle and hatPrepare -SUP fall overboard. The board keeps moving away, so always wear a leash.Quick release leash attached to a SUPConnect -with the riverConnect -with othersPaddlers ready to launch from a boat rampConnect -paddlers stick togetherCare -kayaker SUP Paddlers staying near the shore out of deeper waterCare -Gently taking off to paddleDad fitting child in a life jacket -Prepare tilePrepare - have the right safety equipment and gear for your activity


Social Media Tile Branding

Prepare Treatment with Beaver in PFD

Care Treatment with Beaver in PDF

Connect Treatment with Beaver in PFD

Spanish Cuidate (Care) Treatment

Spanish Conectate (Connect) Treatment


Waterway Access Permit Flyer

Waterway Access Permit Rack Card

Waterway Access Permit Flyer -Spanish

Waterway Access Permit Rack Card - Spanish

Willamette Water Trail FAQs


Requirements for Paddlers

Requisitos para los palistas

Ramp Signage with Equipment Requirements for paddlers

Become a Partner in Safety! Take the Life Jacket Commitment Pledge to use images of people wearing life jackets when recreating on the water.

Columbia Slough Watershed On-Water Paddling Event

Learn All About Life Jackets

Life Jacket Loaner Stations
Corvallis Parks & Recreation's portable life jacket loaner station

Social Media Tips

We recognize that your organization may have its own hashtag list. When messaging boating safety and Take Care Out There, we hope you will consider including these hashtags as well: 

Statewide Water Safety Hashtags:

#TakeCareOutThere #WearItOregon #BoatSafeBoatSober #PrepareCareConnect #BoatOregon

Willamette Water Trail Specific Hashtags: (use these with the above statewide water safety hashtags)

#WillametteWaterTrail #IwonderWV