IMHO what the corps is saying is true, the cobblestone, pool-drop style whitewater parks most of us inhabit would be a nightmare for a fish to get through. but fish aren't the only ones that could benifit. there should be more small boulders, the parks should be mostly attainable to kayakers, this would allow for a few things, better proving grounds for beginners, downriver freestyle and slalom racing. bigger rivers like the arkansas and gunnison will have problems with this though, since huge boulders are incredibly difficult to move in, and smaller boulders move around alot when the water comes up. even the ones in gunnison that get cemented in pop out and roll downstream occasionally, weve got one in either eddy on top and one downstream river left center, main channel at the bottom drop. of course in smaller streams this wouldnt be nearly as much of a problem, i cant think of a good reason to sacrifice a more natural feel and habitat when there arent any engineering issues. of course the engineering issues on larger rivers can be overcome, as well. then cost and willingness becomes the issue.
I think the fish issue is valid. If you channel all the water into a narrow, high speed drop, yes, the fish can't get upstream. But, there are probably ways to deal with this, such as building some sort of fish ladder.
The other issues mentioned in the article, such as more flooding, or the problem with grouting the slots between the boulders seemed bogus.
All in all, I think this article was more creating a controversy when there wasn't one there to begin with.
I would tend to agree that it is an issue that nobody ever thought of before. I loved Gary's response of "Rivers from the Animas to the Yampa have kayak parks with no ill effects, Lacy said." Did anybody ask the fish? :roll: Maybe fish ladders are the thing and should be thought about in the future.
Wow, I sure hope the DOW takes care of all the rapids upstream of our WW parks so that the fish can get around. Clearly, Rigor needs to go. I suppose there are cases where it would be best to put in a fish ladder. Fine, do that. Big deal. But I somehow doubt that fish are attaining Poudre Falls, and it doesn't seem to have hurt them.
Seriously, I doubt the article is complete bunk, but if you applied the standards they are talking about, fish would be in danger in any number of rivers we have where there are fast chutes or drops over a few feet, and any (passe, class III) slide would be endangering fish because it is the equivalent of having all that grout.
So, to get the DOW started, here is a list of places for pyrotechnic remodeling: Tunnel, Poudre Falls, Whiteline, Pineview, Supermax, Rigor, Coors Falls, all CB creeks, Vallecito, Big South. Give me a break - does anybody else see that the logic presented in that article simply doesn't add up? Goin' backpacking...maybe while I'm gone someone will shed some light and show if I'm off my rocker here???
Caspian, yea, I kind of had the same thoughts, but consider that the Pagosa Springs kayak park is being built in a pretty mellow section of the river. There may not be any fish in a class IV or V section of a river, but the park is in a class II section. Fishing is big down there.
Caspian -- You're right, those places probably are natural barriers to fish. Those types of features can play an important role in diversifying genetics.
What the article was talking about, however, was a specific species of fish and a specific section of river. If you grout in a structure like that, there is no way for those particular fish to get thru, its as simple as that. In a boulder choked rapid, there are refuges for the fish, so they can pick their way through. Only under certain circumstances would WW park structures be a problem, and it looks as though this could be a special case. Trout don't necesarily travel upstream to spawn, so it is a non-issue in a lot of the WW parks.
Look no further than the Osterizer (Mammoth Falls) in Cross Mountain Canyon. This rapid is very similar to the ledge style holes that Lacy builds. The DOW has never looked at this as impeding the migration of endangered fish, so I agree that this is a poor excuse to limit the buildout of playparks.
Our work building river features for boating should always incorporate benefits for boaters but most importantly fish/terrestrial/aquatic habitat and aesthetics. The ledge style features like the C and D hole here in Steamboat are the most invasive on the system, for sure, but also the most effective and shouldn't be seen as barriers for fish migration.
Our City is now looking at getting a river improvement master plan done here in hopes to provide a scope of work for the next ? years. Several of the suggestions that come up are not to build this river wide type feature, but more waves... as we already have the "big holes".
So is there a way to create a river feature that not only has the best aspects of a ledge hole, but also allows for passage on one side or the other for not only fish, but boaters who aren't capable of hammering thru the hole? Is there a way of creating only a hole on one side of the river by locking a rock or cluster mid stream, diverting flow to one side of bank that is built up? If you've ever seen the A hole in Steamboat, something like that, though the A hole needs some work to make for a modern play feature.
Grouting can be done esthetically if done correctly, and needs to occur if these features are to remain over time. Also, basement rocks (not sure if this is right term) should be placed so holes don't scoure under themselves.
Dpost article is not the greatest for our cause, but not all not true.
I don't know if I should comment since I have a professional stake in this conversation...but I can't resist. I have sat in more meetings in the last six years discussing fish and whitewater parks than I would care to recall. We (REP) have a study that was done by a fish biologist (PHD). The conclusion of that study was that this topic shold be studied at greater length and that ww parks, in general, have a negligible to positive impact on fish habitat.
As far as fish passage...the US Army Corps of Engineers designed the Pueblo Park for fish passage. We were constrained by those slopes and dimensions and did the best we could for ww paddling so apparently the DOW or someone at the Corps feels that the velocities produced were passable by fish.
The quote that "fish have not been considered" is ridiculous. Every ww park that has been built has gone through a 404 permit process and during that process the DOW has the chance to comment and in many cases they drive permit conditions and design restraints.
I am not going to comment on the Pagosa project specifically since we are actively working to come up with a solution.
I am the first to admit that we and everyone else trying to build ww parks have a lot to learn. Anything that goes in a public waterway needs to pass multiple tests in order to serve the best intrests of the public and the aquatic health of the stream. I am a member of both AW and Trout Unlimited and try to view every project very broadly.
The article on Monday had numerous claims and generalizations that were not sustaintiated and were likely false. What we need is a cooperative effort with the DOW in order to try and determine how to continue to create ww parks that help evolve our sport while enhancing aquatic habitat. As any paddler on the Blue, South Platte, Roaring Fork, San Juan and many other streams around the State can attest to, most of the fish habitat projects in rivers today (many of which were either funded or built by the DOW) are impediments to safe passage by recreational paddlers. So the same article could almost be written from the opposite angle highlighting fish habitat projects and their negative impact on whitewater paddling. Either way...inflamitory statements on the front page of a major newspaper are counter productive (as opposed to my inflamitory statements contained within our little cyber world here (I am calling bullshit on myself)).
Let me just start by saying I spend one-hundred percent of my time working on design, construction, and implementation of fish ladders and dealing with barriers to fish passage (I am a river hydraulic engineer for NMFS). So for me, fish passage is a very important issue, especially when dealing with threatened or endangered species.
I am also a glutton for the Golden and Breck playparks and Steamoat's A-hole. I have spent countless hours surfing and squirting(or attempting to). I can see this issue from both sides.
However, I am siding with the fish on this one. It is true that there are many natural barriers in the water- high waterfalls, chutes, etc. Sure, the fish have survived for thousands of years this way. However, when dealing with ESA-listed (or close to being listed) species, it becomes a "do no harm" type situation. We don't want to exacerbate a problem we have already created. Fish numbers for these species are dwindling because of human activity. And in many cases, to enhance the fish numbers, ladders are built for naturally-occuring obstructions as well.
It's also absolutely true that grout and cement cause serious problems for river ecosystems. While it might be ok to use it in small amounts- anchoring a boulder here or there - to use it extensively in a whitewater park is devestating to the ecosystem in that area. You could ask, "why don't the fish just stay upstream or downstream of the park?" they will- but once you put in enough of these man-made objects, you limit a once long, unobstructed river into descrete short oases that the fish must live between (including other structures- dams, weirs, etc. put in for ag or storage purposes). This causes a new branch of problems involving fish diversity... I could go on for a while.
While I love and cherish our whitewater parks that exist already, I believe that this, like many things, must be done in moderation-- if we allow playparks to be built everywhere, then massive damage could be done to the rivers that we work so hard to protect (which is why I have a job). It's not just the rivers we love- it's the river ecosystem as a whole.
I'd say it's better to first enjoy and maintain the playparks we already have and make sure they're passable for our fishy friends. Destroying aquatic life is undo-able.
I'm not trying to say playparks are bad, just sharing my knowledge about the fish-passage subject. If anyone wants to discuss it more with respect to this particular project, I'd be happy to.
I can't answer the ratio question, but I'm sure it's pretty high. There are hundreds and hundreds of diversion dams in the west. They generally go through rigorous and drawn-out licensing and design procedures before being built. Farming trumps recreation out here.
As far as building fish ladders in play parks, it might be easy or it might be difficult --it is sort of a site-dependent thing. It depends on feature types, length of the ladder needed, the flows and temporal conditions in the water. A ladder built for 10,000 cfs may work very poorly at 1,000 or 500 cfs. During the end of the season when water is getting low, all water may be diverted to the fish ladder to ensure adequate passage, making recreationalists a little pissed.
It's definitely something the action agencies should be (and I'm sure are) looking into, for all types of river barriers, especially if there are endangered fish in the area who like to move around. Some species of fish go back to their native ground to spawn, and if a barrier is in the way, they will just jump at it over and over again until they die.
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