Like last year's water level, traffic in rented canoes and kayaks was down on the Cuyahoga River.
The livery reported close to 1,300 total trips from April to October of 2012, according to a year-end report on the livery by Kent State administrators.
In 2010 and 2011, the livery managed about 2,300 total canoe and kayak trips per year.
Dave Herpy, outdoor adventure coordinator for the Department of Recreational Services at Kent State University, said the near record low rainfall in the region contributed to the decline — and an average water depth of 1 foot on the stretch of the Cuyahoga River used by the livery.
"The river was the lowest that we’d ever seen it in our three years of operation, so it did take a toll," Herpy said. "There were some spots where there might have been pools of water maybe three feet deep, but there were other spots where the river was almost unnavigable. You had to get out and walk your kayak or canoe."
In 2010 Ohio marked the warmest year on record — a factor that contributed to little rain fall and thus shallower ponds, rivers and streams.
The shallow river meant the trips took longer, and as a result the livery cut its number of trips from four per day down to three.
"We were able to still accommodate folks and get people on the river," Herpy said.
And 2013, which will mark the livery's fourth year in Kent, may bring yet another challenge as the city starts work to replace the Redmond Bridge connecting the Kramer Ball Fields to Fred Fuller Park.
Kent Parks and Recreation Director John Idone said the parks department, which leases use of Tannery Park to the livery, made them aware of the potential affect the bridge construction may have on recreational boaters.
Kent City Council voted this week to renew the lease with the livery.
"They’re aware they may have to end up putting in at a different location," Idone said. "They’ve done a very good job of conducting the services there at a very reasonable price."
Herpy said they're prepared if the bridge construction has an affect.
"It all depends on the timing of that project," he said. "If construction does start and the river becomes unnavigable in the middle of the summer it will affect us, but it won’t close our operation by any means. We already have a plan B."
New for 2013, the university's adventure center, which runs the livery, will be hiring a full-time employee to manage livery operations and other aspects of the adventure center. Previously, a graduate assistant managed the livery.
And a new element this year is the extension of The Portage Hike and Bike Trail via a link between Tannery and Full parks that was finished last fall. That link makes it possible to ride from Tannery Park to where Middlebury Road crosses the river — all on the bike trail — with the option to ride a short span on the road to The Freedom Trail, which is part of the Metro Parks Serving Summit County and travels into Tallmadge, OH.
"I’m really excited about the new bike trail being complete. That’s going to be great for everyone," Herpy said. "I definitely hope to do a lot more bike rentals this season, more so than in years past."