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New Guide Maps Trails, Raises Funds

David Park didn't set out to make a stocking stuffer, and he didn't have fundraising in mind. No, Park was just doing what he always does: enjoying kayaking around the Norwalk Islands, a major part of his life for 15 years.

But early last year, Park began documenting the area's osprey nests and writing about them. Then he put it all in a folder and sent it to fellow kayakers for feedback.

The result was "Kayaking In and Around the Norwalk Islands," a guidebook printed a year ago. With just a little nudge of publicity, Park sold dozens of copies as gifts, and he didn't keep a dime.

Park donates the proceeds to the Norwalk River Watershed Association Inc. , of which he is a board member. A total of 450 books sold in the last year.

This year, Park has a new item for outdoorsy types. Thanks to a $5,000 grant from REI , the association has published "Trails of the Norwalk River Valley and Vicinity," a map for hikers, showing the entire watershed region.

"That actually includes five towns," he said. "Norwalk, Wilton, Lewisboro, N.Y., a very small part of Weston, a very small part of Redding, and Ridgefield. The Norwalk River starts way up in northern Ridgefield."

Both are for sale on the association's website . The book is $10. The map comes in a paper finish for $5 or outdoor quality for $8.

Park realized he has sold more than a book a day. Another number he came up with: the retiree makes 90 kayak trips a year on Long Island Sound, enjoying the wildlife — great egrets , snowy egrets and oystercatchers – and visiting the public islands.

"I didn't wake up one morning all excited to write a book about kayaking," he said. "It just kind of happened. ... It's not an instruction book, it's about local kayaking."

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