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Old 11-05-2013   #1
bvwp1's Avatar
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 728
BV dam rehab has started

The upper Ark is getting a big face lift. Below the Buena River Park there has been the "Silver Bullet" dam ( built years ago with all sorts of crazy junk in there ) for ever. A really challenging section for many that has a lot of inherent dangers. A few year back the state put in a public portage trail on the river right side. Starting this week, the state is tearing it out completely and rebuilding the section ( which will still have an active head gate on river left ) to be much safer and way easier to navigate from a water craft. There will be a 3 teared drop on the right and you can still go left if you wish. Just with less debris and less metal and a better recovery area. Kudos to our state park and to everyone who has their hands in making the Arkansas River safer for all. PS. This will make putting in at BV and floating down a really fun 2+/3- section of whitewater.

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Old 11-05-2013   #2
Golden, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2007
Join Date: Mar 2010
Posts: 85
Some before/after pics would be gcool to look at. There used to be a stick that you could see sticking straight up from upstream of the horizon line. That was my marker. They can remove all of the rebar and dangerous junk, but I hope that stick stays!

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Old 11-05-2013   #3
loveland, Colorado
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 317

You will have to bring your own stick bro after they rearrange that mess, good riddance I say. I imagine the commercial ops finally applied enough pressure for good reason. I remember an older lady a few years ago falling out of the raft left side and drown from trauma etc. See ya Silver Bullet!

Next on the hit list-nasty dam on Granite section, wee bit annoying getting out of my boat there...
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Old 11-05-2013   #4
tango's Avatar
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2003
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 690
those manky rapids give the ark character... wish you sissies would grow a pair
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Old 11-06-2013   #5
lmyers's Avatar
Buena Vista, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2005
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 4,208
There are some good photos of "before" on this thread:

Dam in BV to be removed for safer passage. Public input tonight

Hopefully the drop isn't made too much easier. In a way I agree with Tango that some of the mankier drops do give the Ark more character, but when your talking about a completely man-made rapid I don't see any reason to not remove unnatural debris from the river (rebar, broken concrete, etc)..... I mean it's not like were talking about the most popular river in the state....

Do you know who did the design/engineering work? Was it Harvey and REP?
GARNA’s mission is to foster stewardship of the resources of the greater Arkansas River region through education, volunteerism and experiences.
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Old 11-06-2013   #6
Golden, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2007
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The silver bullet is great, I'm just going to miss the stick.
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Old 11-06-2013   #7
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Should be a great overall safety improvement. Yes everything in there was man made in the 70's and 80's. It will still be plenty challenging on river left, just no sticks or re-bar up your backside. River right will become more navigable at a wider range of flows with 3 x class 3 - drops, instead of a class 1 friction slide with razors and finishing into a rock pile ( low flow description )

Really the great news is that you can put in at BV park, run some fun class 3 ( or class 4 if you go left at the dam ) then roll into the Milk Run and then Browns. Making for a really fun and longer day on the river. With a great and free public put in at BV park. So easier shuttle and way easier than trying to put in at JV.
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Old 11-06-2013   #8
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Ouray & Buena Vista & Winter Park, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2010
Join Date: Apr 2011
Posts: 292
Man I agree with tango. That rapid definitely spiced up an otherwise pretty boring (all though beautiful) Section of the Ark. And with the portage trail on the side those looking not to run it could easily walk around. I'm pretty bummed that they are getting rid of it.
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Old 11-06-2013   #9
Mike Harvey's Avatar
Salida, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1993
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 805
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 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.
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Old 11-07-2013   #10
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Thanks Harv.

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