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Old 07-08-2010   #1
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2004
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 3,095
NF South Platte Recreational Release!

Like many kayakers, I've often dreamed of a planned recreational release on the North Fork of the South Platte. That dream has now become a reality!

I'm happy to announce that Denver Water has approved a proposal to do a planned whitewater recreational release on the North Fork of the South Platte River. The release will be Saturday and Sunday, August 14th and 15th. The large shelter at the Pine Valley Open Space Park at the Bailey takeout has been reserved for a good ole fashioned takeout party on Saturday afternoon (free food and beer), and a paddler pot luck (bring your own party) on Sunday afternoon.

Exact flows can not be specified now as they are constrained by weather and water demand that specific weekend. Based on historical flows and water demand, Denver Water thinks that they can deliver 300 cfs through Roberts Tunnel which would mean about 330-350 cfs at the Bailey gauge.

The intent of the event is to provide a planned release when natural runoff is done so that kayakers can enjoy a great weekend of paddling on a classic stretch of river. The North Fork South Platte is an excellent location for a recreational release as it is home to the Bailey run (IV/V classic) and the Foxton run (III/IV) and offers a variety of paddling within easy traveling distance for a large portion of the Colorado paddling community.

While Denver water has agreed to plan and schedule the event, they must have a demand for the water in order to move it through the tunnel. This means that a large rainstorm, while rare, could potentially cause the release to be canceled. Denver Water has agreed to give us an update the week before the event to give a better idea of what flows should be. I think we will have a final thumbs up before paddlers hit the road.

I'd like to offer an open invitation to all paddlers to come out to the North Fork of the South Platte and enjoy this recreational release. While recreational releases are common in the Southeast, California and many parts of the country, they are virtually non-existent in Colorado due to the complications of water laws, water rights, and a tight water supply. I'd love to see a big turnout for this event to demonstrate how much this type of event means to the paddling community. If the event goes off well, it could be the first stepping stone to making a North Fork South Platte release an annual event, and could also potentially help open the door for releases on other rivers in Colorado.

I'll post more details about the event as things it gets closer. I'd like to encourage both Bailey and Foxton paddlers to come to the Takeout Party at the Pine Valley Ranch Open Space Park on Saturday afternoon. If you plan on coming to the party, it would be great it you could post here with a headcount / RSVP, PM me, or let me know when you see me. I'd like to get a general idea of the headcount so that I can plan for how much food and beer to bring. Saturday we will have food and beer free for all.

Finally, I'd like to give a sincere thanks to Dave Bennet from Denver Water who was instrumental in making this happen.

If you have any questions or comments about the event, please feel free to contact me via PM on the buzz.


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Old 07-08-2010   #2
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Silverdale, Washington
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Posts: 299
Nice work Ian! Thanks for all your time and effort on this. I can't commit yet, but hopefully it'll work out.

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Old 07-08-2010   #3
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2002
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Awesome, Ian.
I will definitely hope to be there with a crew.
I'll confirm in a couple weeks.
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Old 07-08-2010   #4
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Buena Vista, Colorado
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Excellent work. I will be there. Most likely with other Ark boys.
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 07-08-2010   #5
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Seattle, Washington
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Yeah buddy! Nice work! Bummed I can't make it, but had a great run at 500+ on Monday with members of the Mank Crew.

One thing to consider would be talking with landowners at the putin to create a parking strategy. They've been very cool in the past, but a lot of boaters on a specific day could create problems.

Super jealous, sounds like an awesome time!
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Old 07-08-2010   #6
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Golden, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1984
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Originally Posted by JCKeck1 View Post
One thing to consider would be talking with landowners at the putin to create a parking strategy. They've been very cool in the past, but a lot of boaters on a specific day could create problems.
Agreed- Definitely consider the parking lot behind the ATF / laundromat about 500 yards upstream. More parking, plus a Port-o-let is usually there. I think it's technically a city park, albeit not much of one. Adds about 2 minutes to the float.

I'm in for BaileyFest 2010.
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Old 07-08-2010   #7
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2004
Join Date: Apr 2004
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Thanks for the support guys! Agree on the parking and put in comments.

Parking and launch strategy are in the works. I'll post details and maps when they are finalized. The preferred option at this point is to launch at McGraw Park that El Flaco mentioned and park shuttle vehicles at the Bailey Business Center across right across the road. The parking / launch plan was worked with the Bailey Chamber of Commerce to try and avoid any parking or logistics issues with the town of Bailey.

I've tried to contact the new owners of the more common put in downstream, but haven't gotten a call back. I'd prefer if paddlers didn't try and put in down there during the event to keep the boater traffic from causing any conflicts there.
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Old 07-09-2010   #8
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2004
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I think CW is going to put together a cruise on the foxton section of the NFSP during the event. Check in with CW to see what they are planning if you are interested.
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Old 07-09-2010   #9
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Hell yeah! I'm there. You rule, Ian! And props to Denver Water for coming on board. Let's do this right.
Grif for President!
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Old 07-12-2010   #10
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2004
Join Date: Apr 2004
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Big thanks to Confluence Kayak Shop and Jackson Kayaks, who are sponsoring the event. The takeout party for you enjoyment will happen thanks to the generosity of these folks.

Also, here is the updated version of the announcement from Denver Water. The PR folks wanted to tweak it a bit more.

Denver Water Announcement
The whitewater recreation community is organizing a weekend kayaking event on the North Fork of the South Platte River Aug. 14–15.
Denver Water’s operation of the Roberts Tunnel — which delivers water from Dillon Reservoir on the Western Slope to the North Fork of the South Platte on the Eastern Slope — affects flows on the South Platte River. While the utility must operate the tunnel solely for water supply purposes, the South Platte Protection Plan gives Denver Water the flexibility to manage the timing of flows to enhance whitewater recreation, when conditions allow. If weather and water rights limitations cooperate, Denver Water will be able to operate its system to allow for great kayaking flows during that weekend.
The South Platte Protection Plan was developed in 2004 by a variety of organizations, including Trout Unlimited, the Sierra Club, American Whitewater, the Colorado Division of Wildlife, Denver Water and the U.S. Forest Service. As a result of the plan, these groups have been able to work together to provide many high-quality kayaking days on the North Fork over the past several years.
Denver Water must consider many variables when managing tunnel operations. The utility cannot take water from the Western Slope unless the water is needed to meet demands in the city. Rain or lack of sufficient storage space on the Eastern Slope also mean Denver Water will take less water through the Roberts Tunnel.
Historically, the weekend of Aug. 14–15 has had relatively high flows. Weather or water rights issues beyond Denver Water’s control, however, may cause these flows to be less this year. More information on conditions for the event will be available the week of the event.

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