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Old 02-25-2011   #1
Boise, Idaho
Join Date: Aug 2010
Posts: 505
Boise WW Park

Unfortunately I was unable to post in some of the earlier threads (too old), so I had to make a new one...

I have a question for Boise boaters - or some of you who are familiar with other whitewater parks. This was prompted by a post in another thread.

Boise has an extremely popular floating/tubing stretch of river that usually runs from the beginning of July to Septemberish, when it starts getting colder and/or the kiddies get back into school. When I say popular I mean insanely popular... the river looks like a gridlocked freeway most days of the summer.

As with most things, you always have a few idiots who think they can get on the river a little too early, when the flows are really high, cold, and somewhat dangerous. At least once a year you have people getting rescued out there, and the city puts out a warning not to get on to the river until the flows get lower.

So my questions are, with regard to the proposed Boise Whitewater Park:

What considerations were made for tubers/floaters? I can almost guarantee this place will be dominated by them from June to September. And the river level gets fairly low the rest of the year - will boaters be able to play during those months?

Will there be any requirements for Pfds? How would any of this be monitored?

As excited as I would be for a whitewater park, this looks more and more like a potential clusterf--k to me.

Unfortunately I missed many of the meetings... were these things even discussed?

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Old 02-25-2011   #2
phlyingfish's Avatar
Moscow, Idaho
Paddling Since: 1995
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 269
While I do think tubers will be an issue at the new park, it's separated from the main Boise float by an impassible diversion dam. That said, if you build it they will come. I wonder, how does it goes down in places like Reno?

I think PFDs and helmets should be required to use the whitewater park features. I'm not sure if that has been considered or if it would be enforced, but there is a convenient green belt for the coppers to sit and watch.

As far as I know, the feature will be surfable year round. They are building it with an adjustable "wave shaper" that is supposed to allow the feature be tuned as the flows change. If it is even as good or better than the Gutter at low water, then it will be an off-season boon to the Boise paddling community. During high water, there is potential for this thing to be epic. It currently makes a pretty sick, if intimidating, feature during spring flows.

"A river is more than an amenity, it is a treasure."
-Oliver Wendell Holmes writing for the majority in New Jersey v. New York
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Old 02-25-2011   #3
Boise, Idaho
Join Date: Aug 2010
Posts: 505
My thought is that other whitewater parks have a bit more volume than the Boise River (though I don't know for sure) and tubing probably isn't as popular or entrenched as it is in Boise.

I think this will be a substantial issue, though I fully admit I'm not aware if it has been raised or not.

There's this weird expectation that the Boise River is completely safe for everyone at all places and times. And usually... it is quite safe. I just think that the summer crowd will indeed try to continue their float, just walk by the Americana dam, or else just congregate by Quinn's like many of the swimmers do already.

While these waves will still likely be relatively safe, I'm not sure if its a good idea to tube them without a Pfd.

Moreover, I am worried about user conflicts... while I haven't seen any conflicts with floaters on the Weir or Barber waves/holes between boaters and floaters, I imagine it would be worse here where it's more of a repeat run situation.

I guess in that case it will likely be something boaters have to forfeit from July through August, and return in the "offseason" to enjoy.

You are right about the potential for this thing, though...
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Old 02-25-2011   #4
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Moscow, Idaho
Paddling Since: 1995
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 269
Rivers, whether flat or class VI, are dangerous. A person can drown in a few inches of standing water. I don't think anyone involved in the Boise Park is assuming otherwise. That said, people can temper that risk through some combination of knowledge, preparation, equipment, skill, and luck. The precise combination depends on the person.

As far as I know, minimum flow on the Boise is about 500 cfs. Some parks in CO make fun features with less water on a much less consistent basis. Vail comes to mind, and I am sure there are other examples.

As for enforcing safety at the park, that will have to be the city's and to some extent each boater's responsibility. Like I said, its an extremely public area that is already routinely patrolled by police. Given Boise's efficiency writing parking tickets, I doubt they would forgo the opportunity to make money off park users who don't obey the rules (whatever they may be). Rest assured there will be rules; the city would face a lot of liability otherwise. If consistently enforced, the yahoos will go away, and the boaters, boogie boarders, and properly outfitted swimmers will remain.

However, the potential for issues with the inevitable flood of idiots shouldn't torpedo this project. That problem can be managed, and, overall, it will be a huge benefit for paddlers in the Treasure Valley.
"A river is more than an amenity, it is a treasure."
-Oliver Wendell Holmes writing for the majority in New Jersey v. New York
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Old 02-25-2011   #5
Boise, Idaho
Join Date: Aug 2010
Posts: 505
Just to clear up any possible confusion... in case you may have thought so (or if you didn't) - my points weren't to torpedo the project, to insinuate it should be stopped or changed, or anything similar.

I absolutely fully support the project.

I'm just coming in late to the game, and was wondering if these issues came up. I doubt seriously the city is interested in any way in patrolling or enforcing the area any more than the float is patrolled or enforced (minimally). And I'm not sure any signage or otherwise will keep the yahoos off of this section during those summer months.

I'm more worried about user conflict than I am potential liability, though I think the first kid or drunken idiot that nearly drowns trying to tube or swim these waves will be an issue.

I agree with your points, especially those regarding river safety and this park being a benefit to the Boise area.
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Old 02-26-2011   #6
tallboy's Avatar
Telluride, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2005
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 175
Reno's park is a tubing mecca, i tried a session there on a sat morning in july and got basically shut down by the constant flow of tubers. Their park is your best comparable scenario, not sure on drowning issues there but im sure theyve happened.
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Old 02-27-2011   #7
Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 1,134
Boulder's whitewater park is relatively free of tubers early in the season when the water is freezing and during high water when it is obviously dangerous. Later in the summer when the levels drop and the water warms up the tubers takeover on sunny weekends. Still able to run it weekdays and early mornings.
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Old 04-05-2011   #8
gringoanthony's Avatar
Boise, Idaho
Paddling Since: 2008
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 115
In-River Construction for New Boise River Park to Begin in October | Cobweb

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ark, boise

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