VERO BEACH - The second annual Paddle Dash on Aug. 10 will benefit the Keep Indian River Beautiful Lagoon Friendly Lawns program.

The Paddle Dash is a paddleboard and kayak race, with beginner, intermediate, and advanced courses, plus a sprint race and a corporate race. Races take place near Vero Tackle and MacWilliam Park in Vero Beach.

The Corporate Team Relay Challenge will feature Dale Sorensen Real Estate, last year’s winner, against challengers Alex MacWilliam Real Estate, Piper Aircraft, Boston Barricades, Republic Services, and Florida Power and Light.

Spectators, families, and racers of all skill levels are welcome. Participants should register in advance online, and then check in between 7:30-8 a.m. at Vero Tackle. A safety meeting begins at 8 a.m. in front of Vero Tackle.

Racing starts at $30 ($20 for children) for the beginner’s course, an easy paddle around Memorial Island that begins at 8:55 a.m. The intermediate racers start at 8:50 a.m., with the advanced racers first at 8:45 a.m.

The corporate race starts at 9:45 a.m., with the sprint races at 10:30 a.m. Medals and prizes will be given out in front of Vero Tackle at 11 a.m.

According to Keep Indian River Beautiful, the Indian River Lagoon is one of the most biologically diverse estuaries in North America, providing a home for 4,000 species and contributing $7 billion per year to local economies along the lagoon’s 156 miles.

Nutrient pollution from lawn fertilizer and residential runoff fuel algae blooms that are dangerous to animals and people. Lagoon Friendly Lawns is a free program to reduce homeowners’ nutrient runoff.

To have your home designated a Lagoon Friendly Lawn, you start by signing a pledge to be fertilizer-free from June 1- Sept. 30; to use slow-release nitrogen fertilizer at least 50% of the time if you do fertilize; to test soil to determine if phosphorus is needed before using it; to regularly pick up dog waste from your yard if you have a dog; to not push grass clippings into a storm drain or drainage ditch; and to maintain a four foot buffer from any storm drain, drainage ditch or waterfront when using fertilizer, herbicides or pesticides.

KIRB cites an FIT research study that says these steps will result in a 50% reduction in your home’s nitrogen output to the lagoon. The inspiration for the program was one started by Keep Brevard Beautiful in 2015.

Check in for the Paddle Dash on Aug. 10 will start at 7:30 a.m. inside Vero Tackle, 3321 Bridge Plaza Dr., Vero Beach. Board and park at the MacWilliam Park Boat Ramp, 3341 Bridge Plaza Dr.

Sign up online at https://paddleguru.com/races/PaddleDash2019 or email ester@keepindianriverbeautiful.org or call (772) 226-7738.

Rentals are available for those who don’t have their own kayaks or paddleboards. Racers must provide their own PFDs.

For more information about the Lagoon Friendly Lawns program, visit www.KeepIndianRiverBeautiful.org. After you fill out the Lagoon Friendly Lawn pledge on line, submit a photo of your front yard to ester@keepindianriverbeautiful.org.

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