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Discussion Starter #1
Hey 'yall,

As most of you know I've been updating the whitewater community on the status of releases from Roberts Tunnel into the North Fork of the South Platte for the past two summers. I moved to Salida last fall to dial in my playboating skills and as a result I'm handing the reins over to Steve Phillips, aka Caspian on the 'buzz. Steve has his finger on the carotid pulse of the Front Range paddling scene and has some good ideas on ways to further our ability to enjoy the North Fork. As such, I feel he will be an excellent spokesperson for the greater whitewater collective.

Enjoy,

Dan
 

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Hey all -

Let me apologize for the long post in advance.

I'm excited to be able to help continue Dan's great work keeping us apprised of Roberts Tunnel releases and I'm looking forward to getting to know the other stakeholders out there who also care about issues on the South Platte. I'll be attending a DWB meeting on the SP next week and should get to meet some of the other folks involved and learn their interests in the river. Initially, I want to get familiar with the workings of things and the other players before I make any proposals. This certainly includes CWWA, which I imagine already has some interaction with the DWB that I can learn from. From what I understand, there is at least one other person in touch with Denver Water, so let’s be clear that I am not the voice of Colorado boaters to the DWB, just a voice.

In terms of ideas, I want to open the floor for people to comment on any issue about the SP that they have thoughts on. My personal passion is to see structured releases on the river, so that boating opportunities are maximized and our season extended. But I want to hear what other issues the Buzz is interested in regarding the South Platte as well.

Regarding the idea of structured releases, two points to start: First, if this happens, I don’t expect that it would happen this season, so don’t get excited – especially since EPA issues could torpedo the whole idea and we don’t know if that is the case yet. Second, what I would like to propose is not a scheduled release, but a structured release – that is, we would not be guaranteed any amount of water, but if there is water released, it would be released in a manner structured to maximize recreational opportunities. Ideally, the DWB could consult a chart showing call amounts and then release structures that maximize recreation for each call.

For instance, if Denver calls down 100 cfs for a day, that is too little for even the worst mank-hounds I know. But if Denver Water released 50 cfs for 20 hours and 350 for 4 hours, the net water into Strontia Springs Reservoir is the same at the end of the day. Add in a little natural flow, and you’ve got a great off-season run. Or try this: last March and November, flows were around 50-65 cfs at Pine. On a call for 60 cfs, a structured release could send down 20 hours of 30 cfs and 4 hours of 210 cfs. Structured releases could mean that Bailey’s season is limited only by ice. You can play with the numbers and times and different peak flows, but the idea remains the same.

The idea of course goes beyond Bailey to Foxton and Waterton (Union and Confluence maybe?). It could also apply to the South Fork, and extend the season in Cheeseman (above and below the lake), Deckers and potentially even Elevenmile. I know very little about the reservoir system that feeds the South Fork, as I’ve only paddled it once, when Elevenmile ran in ’02. (For a little more info on the NF, see: http://www.mountainbuzz.com/forums/f11/bailey-foxton-update-4-7-a-12751.html)

Here is what I would like to ask of the Buzz:
* What do you think of this idea - do you like it?
* If you like it, what would you like to see in it – what is most important to you? Higher peak levels? Variation in peak levels? Time of day for the peak to hit your favorite section of the river – morning, mid-day, evening?
* How much time do you think should be available to run Bailey at what levels? I’ve done it in two and done it in five, so there is a lot of play in there.
* Are any of you fishermen? How will this idea be perceived by our friends on shore? I don’t fish and don’t know if there are turbidity or other issues (I think the low flows are better for fishing, so this could be great for them, but I don’t know for sure.)
* I know very little about environmental law – does anyone know of EPA issues that could pose a problem?

If you want to talk about it, PM me with your number and I’ll call you. Looking forward to seeing what we can accomplish...

Cheers,
Steve
 

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Dan, thanks for all the updates and good work in the past. We all appreciate it.

Caspian, thanks for stepping in and keeping the ball rolling.

I like the structured release idea. It would probably be easier to get a structured release then a scheduled release due to the water laws and calls etc.

I still think a long term goal should be scheduled releases though. They do it all over the place on the east coast, and dam and power issues are just as tough to negotiate as water issues. It can be done. Even something small would be great. To use the southeast model, having one release weekend in late april / early may with one day of 400 cfs and one day of 600 cfs would be a dream. If its scheduled you can count on it, and if its early and/or late season it would be great timing for boaters.

A couple thoughts on obstacles though... Fishermen will be a big one. Low water is better for fisherman, and while a good higher release would be better for boaters, jacking up the flow would impact fishing. I spoke with some folks about the big thompson and they noted that every time they release big flows, the fishermen complain that they are killing them. I think it would be wise to work with the fishermen to see if a plan could be worked out to accomodate their needs too so as to prevent fighting about it. Fishermen would likely prefer the low constant flow. Boaters want a pulse higher flow. Working out an arrangement that would allow for both, or toggle between the two would be best.

Another obstable might be tunnel operations. I'm sure they would rather crank it to one flow and let it ride, vs changing flows a couple times a day to give boaters a pulse. Its just more work for them.

One other thing to think about is access. The takeout for bailey can accomodate a large number of people and cars and has restroom facilities. Its a great takeout. The put in is small and could easily get overwhelming if more than even a handfull of boaters show up. Planning to aviod putin conflicts, or long term planning to get a better put in with more space for boaters might be another option. The same can be said about the foxton stretch as well.

With our new AW rep, and continuing focus on recreational opportunities, the north fork of the south platte represents a major opportunity for colorado boaters. Between the bailey, waterton, and foxton run, you've got just about something for everyone from a boating perspective.

Best of luck.
 

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deepsouthpaddler, that's good to know about the fishermen. I'll definitely be on the watch for more info about that.

I think the problem with scheduled releases is simply that Strontia Springs can only hold water for one day, if I understand the way it works correctly. It would be the simple physical capacity of SSR that would prevent scheduling that kind of water. This is the kind of thing that we'll learn more about, and not have to guess so much. Not crossing my fingers, but I'd love to see a Tallulah-style weekend at Elevenmile!

Steve
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Hey Steve,

I for one would love to see boatable flows on the South Fork through Cheesman Canyon. My understanding is that a minimum flow is 200cfs released from 11 mile reservoir.
When was this last paddled? I haven't heard of anyone dropping in in the last five years or so.

Dan
 

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Thanks Dan. I think there was a group, maybe two, that did Cheeseman after the Hayman fire - seem to recall reading that here. I think 200 would be enough for Elevenmile, but we did it at 300 and I'd imagine that run is better in the 300-500 range.

On a different note, I spoke briefly with a friend who is a fly-fishing guide who said the following: SP fishing can be great at low water, but it's easier to spook the fish. It is still very good at higher levels as long as the water is clear so the fish can see the flies. If the water gets milky or opaque, then the fishing is not very good, so he prefers higher water that is not turbid. I ran the idea of structured releases past him and although we didn't have time to discuss it, he said he knows of places where they do them and it is great for fishing and places where it wrecks the fishing. So, when we get to talk again, I expect to learn some more useful info.
 

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Hey Steve,

Your enthusiasm for what could be with "the powers that be" is admirable. I think the scheduled release is a fantastic idea. I for one really like Bailey. Its got all one could really wan't (a bunch of 4's, with one scary 5). Unfortunately, I think all we can expect from the tunnel is information about their releases. The whitewater community simply doesn't have enough influence in my opinion. INfluence takes money. As we are all aware of, getting money out of boaters is tough. Hopefully I'm wrong. I'd love to see something like this happen.

Kent
 
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