I think I already posted a pretty long explanation of this project in the other thread that CKS linked to, so forgive me if I repeat myself.
I think its important for the paddling community to understand the Silver Bullet is actually the Helena Ditch Diversion Structure. Its a privately owned irrigation diversion structure that is about 100yrs old. I guess its semantics, but its not really a "rapid". Its a diversion dam that is in some stage of disrepair.
The ditch company has the legal right (exempt from the Clean Water Act) to modify and maintain it as they see fit. AHRA, lead by Park Manager Rob White, decided to be proactive on this structure and see if they could come up with mutually beneficial solution at the site before the Ditch Company started making changes that could have a negative impact on navigability.
I started working with AHRA about 4 years ago on the project. We received funding from the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) through the Basin Roundtable to make the improvements. Its basically money set aside to improve diversions. Traditionally this means headgates, dams, other typical infrastructure associated with diverting water for irrigation.
This project was sold as having multiple benefits, stabilizing and improving diversion capabilities, improving navigation and improving fish passage. Its actually a possible model for projects going forward that could see large benefits for paddlers State wide, in the sense that you have a entity largely focused on diverting water for irrigation funding a project that will,in the net, improve navigation for paddlers and upstream movement for fish. AHRA and Rob in particular deserve a lot of credit for keeping this project moving through the bureaucratic maw over the last 4 years.
The overall plan, which we got started on in earnest today is to build a three drop boat passage on river right and a fish passage/overfflow channel on river left. In addition the ditch company is getting a new headgate and associated improvements for their ditch.
I have been running the Silver Bullet since 1993 and while I agree the drop is kind of fun as is for experienced paddlers, change at this site was inevitable and I am just glad we are getting an improvement that will benefit boaters.
Sorry for the long post. If you have any specific questions feel free to email me email@example.com
. The construction site is on private property so please don't drop in for a visit, but I do think AHRA is planning an official tour day during construction at some point so I will make sure I post that date here. Thanks.