Originally Posted by Becky J
I also got a recommendation from a friend to talk about play parks and how their development affects riverbeds and ecosystems. Anybody else have info on that?
Thanks so much!
Here in Missoula, "Brennan's wave" was built in a spot where there was an outflow to an irrigation ditch. The whole headworks was in bad shape, and there was quite a bit of crap in the river in that location. When they built the wave, they rebuilt the entire river channel there including the headgate. I understand it was considered a big improvement in a river that was pretty damaged. After all, the location used to be the garbage dump for Missoula and they let it all float away in high water. That was long ago, but representative of how we as a society used to use rivers.
On the flip side, a healthy river and ecosystem can be very adversely affected by increases in tourism. More impact doesn't help places that are relatively pristine. And the trashed places were once pristine and end up trashed by increased use over the years. A significant portion of people do not practice "leave no trace", especially with WW boating drawing a pretty partying crowd, with lots of river stretches almost seeming like junk shows and a circus party.
The Blackfoot River (think "A River Runs Through It") is quite healthy, and increases in boating are having a pretty negative impact, such that they are looking at permitting the upper stretches for the first time. There's just no way that hordes of people don't have a negative impact, with the exception to the outfitters and personal pleasure. Once a commercial aspect gets established, it tends to bring a voice that didn't exist before, and it's rare that such jobs are actually sustaining of people or families.
As the saying goes, it can be loved to death. One footprint doesn't make a path, but 1000 will create a road.
I see it kind of like hunting here. Hunting led the way to preserve wildlife, and funded it to boot. Now it is becoming clear as hunting goals conflict with wildlife management goals that preservation funded by hunting is still about having enough animals to kill. We have some such killed animal in our freezer. Elk hunts are less successful due to wolves, and suddenly that lobby seems less interested in the ecosystem they once heralded than how many animals are harvested. I say this because of the great things AW and other groups do, which I support and am a member of. I wonder if in the future boating goals and the lobbying done might actually conflict with what is needed by the environment, when recreational releases are what's the goal of boaters? Nothing is straightforward.
I love WW boating, and love to get other people into the sport, but I believe there is a fair amount of negatives to the environment that aren't popular to discuss.