Grand County ponies up dough for instream water rights for whitewater park #coriver

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From the Sky-Hi Daily News (Tonya Bina):

A manmade play wave, fashioned with rocks and concrete boulders in the river, would be the first whitewater park in Grand County. Such play waves attract paddlers from far and wide. It is planned to be located at Pumphouse, the popular Bureau of Land Management boating site on the Colorado River west of Kremmling off the Trough Road, between the Gore Canyon’s class 4-5 rapids and the splashy, family friendly class 2-3 section below Pumphouse. The Pumphouse site is already developed with a parking area and bathrooms, and is a strong location for boaters late in the season due to upstream reservoir releases…

Grand County is seeking water rights attached to the whitewater park at Pumphouse and a potential feature — someday in the future — at Hot Sulphur Springs, which the town has indicated it favors having as an attraction, according to Grand County Manager Lurline Underbrink Curran. The county, with help from hired Project Coordinator Caroline Bradford of Eagle, established these locations as most-preferred among actual users of the river by conducting a series of meetings and reaching out to boaters across the state. Bradford received more than 100 letters in favor of the park, she said…

The county is seeking river flows varying from 800-1,200 cfs, depending on the time of year between April and October, for recreational use on the Colorado River. The rights are still pending in District 5 Colorado Water Court, and Underbrink Curran said the county has satisfied the concerns of all but three objectors. Water attorneys for the county are “optimistic,” Underbrink Curran said. They have indicated they are “confident that they have a good opportunity to settle with the objectors,” two of which are Colorado Springs Utilities and Climax. The county has until April 2014 to settle…

Financing the $1.7 million project remains another hurdle. Grand County has pledged $600,000 and is using a chunk of that to pay for the legal process of obtaining water rights. Last week, Bradford announced a “a huge step forward” for the park when the Colorado Water Conservation Board committed a $500,000 grant toward the project from its Water Supply Reserve Account. Although more than $39 million has been awarded to hundreds of water projects across the state since the fund’s inception in 2007, it was the first time the board awarded money for a recreation project…

Meanwhile, fundraising continues to see the project to fruition. Bradford is charged with leading the effort to raise another $500,000 to $600,000 from within the boater community and from other partners, she said.

Work on the project will be overseen by both the Bureau of Land Management and the Army Corps of Engineers, according to Carey, and the county will be applying for appropriate permitting. The process will involve public comment periods.

Construction of the project would take place during a three to four month window, taking into account the sensitivity of the river, he said. The project would involve diverting the river channel around the work area.

More whitewater coverage here.

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