Standup board paddler and activist to speak at FBR meeting

By | August 28, 2017

 Jesse Hieb’s standup paddle board adventure is not just historic; it led the adventurer on a journey to advocate for the state’s longest river.

Hieb paddle boarded the entire length of the Wisconsin River in 2016, beginning at the river’s source at Lac Vieux Desert, on the Wisconsin-Michigan border, to where it meets the Mississippi River at Prairie du Chien.

Hieb will tell the story of his trip and his work to preserve the health and beauty of the river at the Friends of the Black River’s Wednesday, Sept. 13 meeting. The meeting will be held in the Jackson County Bank’s community room beginning at 6:30 p.m.

To his knowledge, Hieb believes he is the only person to paddle the length of the river on a paddle board.

As the longest river contained entirely within the state’s borders, Hieb took 21 days to complete the 430-mile journey. Carrying 70 pounds of food, camping gear and photography equipment on his paddle board, Hieb encountered rapids and numerous portages as he made his way down river.

The Wisconsin has been described as the hardest working river in the United States. With 26 dams, 14 paper mills and 43 municipalities located on the river, it was also one of the country’s most polluted waterways.

That was 40 years ago. At that time, people swimming in the river or eating fish taken from the river could get sick. Pictures taken of the river at that time show animals were able to walk across it because there was so much sludge sitting on the surface.

Through the efforts of concerned citizens and the paper mills, energy companies and municipalities, pollution in the river has been cut by 93 percent.

Heib has created a documentary of his paddle on the Wisconsin and his work to improve the river’s health. The documentary is titled, “Gone Paddling” and information about the documentary and his trip down the Wisconsin can be found on his website at He intends to show segments of the documentary during his presentation.

Heib’s presentation is part of FBR’s ongoing mission to bring educational programs about environmental issues, conservation and enjoyment of the natural world to the community.

The FBR meeting is free and the public is encouraged to attend. For more information, email

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