Water park for Eagle?

Eagle circa 2010
Eagle circa 2010

From the Vail Daily (Pam Boyd):

As Eagle contemplates a plan to develop a water park — complete with in-stream features, beaches, trails and green space at what is currently the truck parking area west of Chambers Park and east of the Eagle County Fairgrounds — the town organized a panel discussion featuring representatives from Colorado towns that have completed their own park projects. This week, a large crowd of Eagle residents gathered to hear about Colorado communities that were transformed by their river park developments. Representatives from Salida, Buena Vista and Golden shared their respective experiences, offered advice as Eagle looks at its own river project and generally shared the notion that great river spaces make great towns even better.

Salida businessman and Arkansas River Trust member Mike Harvey noted that the community is historically a railroad town, and while boat races on the river date back to the 1940s, the waterway was not truly integrated into the community. However, once the trust was formed in the late 1990s, Salida was able to attract grant money for river park projects.

“What has really happened over the past 15 years is the Arkansas River has become a focal point for our community,” said Harvey.

Businesses have sprung up along the river corridor, community events are planned along the riverbanks and the Arkansas has transformed into a community-defining amenity.

“The economic value of the river is significant. It has become the economic attraction for Chafee County,” said Kitson. “It’s not unusual to see 10 tubers, 20 fisherman and 40 rafts on the river on any given day.”

LOOKING FOR BEAUTY

In neighboring Buena Vista, developer Jed Selby saw the Arkansas River as the focus of his South Main development. The multi-use project features housing, retail and restaurant uses and has a strong focus on riverfront space.

“Our town had turned its back on the river,” said Selby.

The first part of his project was a river park, and Selby said he has learned a lot of lessons from his attempts to build perfect in-stream features to attract water sports enthusiasts.

“It’s one thing to have a wave. It’s another thing to have a spectacular wave,” he said. “We have kept at it year after year after year.”

OCCUPY CLEAR CREEK

Rod Tarullo, director of parks and recreation for the city of Golden, noted Clear Creek “has become the heart and soul of Golden.”

Tarullo noted for the past 18 years, the Clear Creek Park has become an integral part of the community, but when 2012 brought an exceptionally hot summer, the park proved almost too popular.

“We called it Occupy Clear Creek,” said Tarullo, while he shared a picture of an average day on the river that year which showed the waterway crowded with inner-tubes and the riverbanks teeming with people.

After that year, Golden undertook a massive master planning process for its popular amenity to make sure is was not loved to death. “We didn’t want to screw it up. We knew that it is something really good,” said Tarullo…

No one argued the potential of the plan, but some residents questioned the cost. The Eagle Town Board is contemplating a sales tax question for the April 5 municipal election that would increase the local tax by 0.5 percent to generate money for the initial phase of development. That tax is estimated to generate around $4 million over a 20-year period and the total park plan is estimated to cost around $10 million. Eagle hopes to attract grants and funding partners to complete the overall vision.

Dara MacDonald, city administrator for Salida, noted that river park development is expensive, but said it can also be the catalyst for broader economic development.

“Private investment follows public dollars,” she said. “There is so much more vitality in our downtown (since the river park development).”

“These river parks are more than water parks. They are magnets for people,” said Harvey.

Eagle River Basin
Eagle River Basin

DoloresRiverBoating.com: 3rd Annual Permit Party, Friday, January 15

doloresriverboatingadvocates01152016permitparty

From the announcement:

Join us Friday, January 15 for our 3rd Annual Permit Party and the film premiere of “River of Sorrow” by Rig to Flip. Doors open at 6PM and the film starts at 7. Live music by Last Nickel begins at 8. A silent auction with incredible gear and adventures (like a trip for 2 down the Yampa River!) will be held from 6 to 8:30. Tasty vittles from Absolute Bakery and beer from Dolores River Brewery will be available for purchase. Childcare and children’s activities will be provided so bring the whole family! Tickets are $10 at the door, $5 for students, and kids 12 and under are free! Don’t miss this incredible annual celebration of the Dolores River!

Eagle hosts river corridor plan meeting, Wednesday, January 6th

eaglerivercorridorplancover

Update: Matt Farrar sent the following in email:

Just so you are aware, the meeting on Wednesday night is intended to be an opportunity for the engineering firm (S20 Design) that the Town has hired to gather public input on the design of in-stream and riverbank improvements for the Eagle River Park. S20 is not working on the design of the riverside park area. Unfortunately the Vail Daily article didn’t do a great job of explaining the intent of Wednesday’s meeting so I have feeling there might be some confusion about the purpose of Wednesday’s meeting. I have attached a poster that was prepared for the upcoming meeting. Feel free to distribute this poster if you’d like.

From the Vail Daily:

The town of Eagle will host a public information meeting regarding the recently adopted Eagle River Corridor Plan on Wednesday.

The session is planned at 6 p.m. at Eagle Town Hall.

The Eagle River Corridor Plan was officially adopted by the Eagle Planning and Zoning Commission Dec. 1. Adoption of the plan establishes the document as the town’s guide for future growth and development along the Eagle River.

“The Eagle River is a tremendous asset of the town of Eagle, and this plan will enable the community to take better advantage of this natural resource,” said Eagle Town Board member Andy Jessen. “The community has made it clear that they want to connect the town with the river, while preserving it for future generations.”

The planning process for the Eagle River Corridor Plan began in September 2014. The plan was prepared in partnership with Community Builders (formerly the Sonoran Institute) and under the guidance and direction of a steering committee that was comprised of interested citizens, landowners, elected and appointed public officials of Eagle and Eagle County staff. There were several opportunities for public input regarding the plan and a total of five drafts were prepared throughout the course of the planning commission’s review.

“We heard loud and clear through our river corridor planning process that the community wants improved access to the river. The Chambers Park boat ramp improvements are a great start. These improvements are something that the town can build off of as the Eagle River Corridor Plan is implemented over the coming years.” — Matt FarrarAssistant planner, town of Eagle

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE PLAN

The planning area encompasses approximately 3.4 miles of the Eagle River and more than 300 acres. Design and construction of the Eagle River Park, much of which is located at the current truck parking site on the eastern side of the Eagle County Fairgrounds, was identified as a priority. The town has hired an engineering firm, S20 Design, to work on the design of in-stream and riverbank improvements and is negotiating with a landscape architect firm, studioINSITE, to create a conceptual landscape plan of the Eagle River Park that will be used to guide future discussion with the public on what the park should include.

The park plan includes a variety of amenities such as a riverside park, beaches, river viewing areas, trails and in-stream features to create a river park.

Eagle officials say the park plan reflects six major themes:

• Conservation: Protect water quality of the Eagle River and create a network of open space along the river to preserve important wetlands, riparian areas and wildlife habitat while allowing for active recreation in select areas.

• Economic development: Increase public and private sector investment within the river corridor that results in economic growth.

• Recreation: Provide high quality, river oriented recreation amenities that allow for a wide variety of user groups to enjoy the Eagle River and its immediate environs.

• Place making: Create authentic and memorable places along the Eagle River for both residents and visitors.

• Transportation and access: Provide safe and convenient public access from Eagle’s neighborhoods to the Eagle River.

• Education and awareness: Use elements of the Eagle River and adjacent land to promote understanding of the river ecosystem and other qualities of the river corridor.

“The Eagle River is probably our most under utilized natural resource,” Jessen said. “We’ve seen success with our trail building efforts; the town of Eagle River Corridor Plan allows for additional recreation opportunities in Eagle, as we continue to establish ourselves as a premier outdoor recreation destination in Colorado and provide a high quality of life for our residents and guests.”

S20 DESIGN

Last fall, the town of Eagle worked with S20 Design to improve the Chambers Park boat ramp. S20 enlarged the take-out eddy for the boat ramp and did some boulder terracing work along the edge of the eddy. The improvements to the eddy should make it easier for boaters to catch the eddy for the Chambers Park boat ramp and avoid the Rodeo Rapids down river. The boulder terracing will reduce erosion and impacts from boaters walking the bank. The boulder terracing also creates convenient access for visitors to relax and hang out next to the river.

S20 Design’s work also entailed repositioning the boulders in the weirs located upstream and downstream of the boat ramp. Upstream and downstream boulders were reconfigured to improve the function of the eddy at higher river flows to discourage people from climbing out onto the boulders at higher flows.

“The improvements made at the Chambers Park boat ramp this fall create better access to the takeout eddy and the boat ramp, improve safety and create a unique place in Eagle for people to hang out along the river,” said Matt Farrar, town of Eagle assistant planner. “We heard loud and clear through our river corridor planning process that the community wants improved access to the river. The Chambers Park boat ramp improvements are a great start. These improvements are something that the town can build off of as the Eagle River Corridor Plan is implemented over the coming years.”

For more information about the Town of Eagle River Corridor Plan, contact Matt Farrar at 970-328-9651 or matt.farrar@townofeagle.org.

Here’s the link to the Eagle River Corridor Plan.

Eagle River Basin
Eagle River Basin

#COWaterPlan: “We’re recognizing now…that recreation and river health is one of our primary values” — Nathan Fey

From the Public News Service – CO (Eric Galatas):

Conservation groups are gearing up to make sure their voices are heard as Colorado’s Water Plan heads into the implementation phase in the new year.

Nathan Fey, Colorado stewardship director for American Whitewater, said the last 100 years of water development have been focused on meeting demands at the tap along the Front Range and for agriculture, but added that he’s encouraged the state is embracing new priorities.

“We’re recognizing now, for the first time in Colorado, that recreation and river health is one of our primary values,” he said. “This plan has called out kind of a new ethic, and that is: we’ve got to protect our rivers. Because it supports this very robust recreation industry.”

Fey said river recreation in Colorado pumps $29 billion into the state’s economy, and the Colorado River basin accounts for $9 billion alone. He said people who care about rivers shouldn’t just leave the plan’s rollout to the state and utility companies, adding that American Whitewater will urge its members to join upcoming roundtables to make sure the plan’s stream and headwater protections go into effect.

Colorado’s Water Conservation Board projects that the state’s population, which surpassed 5 million people in 2008, will reach 10 million by 2050 – and most growth will occur in cities on the Front Range.

Fey said it’s important for residents to know that water used for golf courses, lawns and showers comes from the Western Slope. Conservation efforts, which feature prominently in the water plan, will be critical for its success, he said.

“We need to conserve water to support what we like today, to make sure that it sticks around into the future,” he said. “The more water we conserve now, the less it means we have to take water from somewhere else in the future – whether it’s out of the river or it’s from our food producers.”

If the collaboration, flexibility and innovation that helped produce the plan is carried forward into implementation, Fey said, he’s confident Colorado’s homes, agriculture and the birds and wildlife that depend upon healthy rivers for survival can all get the water they need. The water plan is online at http://coloradowaterplan.com.

Rafting hits high-water mark in Clear Creek — The Clear Creek Courant

From The Clear Creek Courant: (Gabrielle Porter):

The number of people taking commercial rafting trips on Clear Creek this year was likely higher than 2014, which would make 2015 the third straight year of improvement for the industry, according to the Colorado Rafting Association.

The association saw more than 72,000 commercial customers in Clear Creek in 2014. The association hasn’t finished compiling figures for 2015 year, said executive director David Costlow, but “my guess is this year it will exceed that,” he said.

“That’s big business for Clear Creek County,” Costlow said.

According to the organization’s 2014 report:

• 60,644 people took commercial rafting trips on Clear Creek in 2011.

• 35,422 took Clear Creek trips in 2012.

• 61,172 took Clear Creek trips in 2013.

• 72,224 took Clear Creek trips in 2014.

[…]

Idaho Springs-based company Raft Masters had 6,036 visitors in 2015 — up about 7 percent from last year, said owner Dennis Wied. The company has been running trips in Clear Creek for about 10 years.

“Rafting on Clear Creek is becoming really popular,” Wied said. “Initially our Clear Creek operations made up 25 percent of our total operations between Clear Creek and the Arkansas River. Now it’s more like 40 percent.”

Wied said the county’s proximity to Denver has helped boost its image, especially for people wanting to make day trips…

Costlow said other areas have higher fees than Clear Creek. He pointed to the Arkansas River, which is called the most rafted river in the world.

“The fees there are such that a lot of (rafting companies), although they still run there, they’ve transferred a lot of their business to Clear Creek …,” Costlow said. “That’s why Clear Creek County gets the increase in revenue.”

Clear Creek rafting via MyColoradoLife.com
Clear Creek rafting via MyColoradoLife.com

Proposed Basalt whitewater park public meetings start Monday

Proposed Basalt whitewater park via the Aspen Daily News
Proposed Basalt whitewater park via the Aspen Daily News

From Pitkin County via Glenwood Springs Post Independent:

Pitkin County and Basalt will kick off a series of public meetings Monday to see what type of streamside improvements people want alongside a proposed whitewater wave park in the Roaring Fork River in Basalt.

The Basalt Town Council approved Pitkin County’s plan for the whitewater park in September with the condition that meetings be held to solicit public opinion on streamside amenities. The council also wanted to give the fishing industry a chance to learn more about the plan and comment.

The open house meeting will start Monday at 5:30 p.m. at the Basalt Regional Library. A brief overview will be presented at 6 p.m.

The whitewater wave feature will be constructed about halfway between Fisherman’s Park and the 7 Eleven Bridge in Basalt in fall 2016. Features will be placed in a 450-foot stretch of the river “for the purpose of creating a kayaking, tubing, rafting, and fishing recreation area,” according to the county’s permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The site is upstream from the confluence with the Fryingpan River. County officials identified that stretch as most suitable for a whitewater park because of the flow rate there.

The stream bank adjacent to the river in that stretch is narrow and steep. County and town officials want to collect public comment on amenities that would enhance the experience along the play wave. Ideas include an overlook and seating area, additional parking along Two Rivers Road, direct access to the play area from the street, a pedestrian trail and an interpretative-educational zone.

Pitkin County pursued a special water right called a Recreational In-Channel Diversion so it could make a call for water and maintain seasonal stream flows.

“The kayak play wave is an incidental amenity of what the Healthy Rivers Board was really trying to accomplish and that was securing an important water right for this critically de-watered zone of the Roaring Fork River,” said Andre Wille, chairman of the Healthy Rivers board of directors. “The man-made wave will not only be fun for kayakers, but it will help maintain healthy river ecology throughout the upper Roaring Fork.”

The Colorado Water Conservation Board and Colorado water court have already ratified the special water right.

The Healthy Rivers website said the county will construct two play-wave features with adjacent eddies. “It will be a fun and convenient mid-valley surf spot and a place for teaching/learning whitewater skills,” the website said.

More information on the county project can be found at http://www.pitkincountyrivers.com/healthy-rivers-project—basalt-co.html.

Basalt approves whitewater kayak park — The Aspen Daily News

Proposed Basalt whitewater park via the Aspen Daily News
Proposed Basalt whitewater park via the Aspen Daily News

From The Aspen Daily News (Collin Szewczyk):

Pitkin County plans to install concrete structures and place boulders in the Roaring Fork River near the intersection of Two Rivers Road and Elk Run Drive to create the wave feature for kayakers, and help secure an in-stream diversion water right to keep more of the precious liquid in the river.

But whitewater enthusiasts will have to wait just a bit longer to ride the waves, after construction was delayed until next year so that more public input can be taken into account and amorous trout have time to do their thing.

John Ely, Pitkin County attorney, told the council that Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials had concerns over spawning trout in the river where the construction is to occur. This sentiment was echoed by members of the local angling community who urged caution on moving forward, and asked that the project be delayed.

David Johnson, member of the Roaring Fork Fishing Guide Alliance and guide at the Crystal Fly Shop in Carbondale, said more public input needs to be reeled in before construction occurs.

“Our official position on this issue is that, as an entity, we’d like to see the town of Basalt delay construction on this project so the public can be more fully informed and engaged,” he said. “Pitkin County has had this on the drawing board for a long time, many years, but there hasn’t been outreach to the fishing community.”

Johnson added that the “washing-machine effect” of the feature could be detrimental to fish in the river, and that many locals are skeptical of just how much water the junior right would put in the river, even though any would be a benefit…

Laura Makar, assistant Pitkin County attorney, noted that the cubic feet per second associated with the right would entail an extra 240 CFS from April 15 to May 7; 380 CFS from May 8 to June 10; 1,350 CFS June 11 to June 25; then down to 380 CFS June 26 to Aug. 20; and 240 CFS from then until Labor Day…

Ely said that construction will be delayed until 2016, and that the Army Corps of Engineers, which provides the 404 permit for the project, has been amenable to a delay. The permit has already been granted but is scheduled to expire on Dec. 7…

Denise Handrich, an adjunct professor at Colorado Mountain College’s Aspen campus, said the whitewater park will provide a wonderful location to teach her students how to kayak…

Basalt Mayor Jacque Whitsitt said that while safety must still be addressed in the area, she was relieved by the delay to allow for the spawning trout to procreate, calling fishing the top economic driver for Basalt.

“I’m really happy that we’re going to slow down,” she said. “I think this issue with the spawning is a big deal. … Fishing is a really, really big deal for this community.”

Map of the Roaring Fork River watershed via the Roaring Fork Conservancy
Map of the Roaring Fork River watershed via the Roaring Fork Conservancy