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AS printed in the Long Valley Advocate, by Dan Gallagher on January 20, 2010

Kelly’s Whitewater Park features will provide boating for any skill

CASCADE – In what will become Idaho’s first whitewater park, the boating details are filling in as crews hustle before water levels start to rise again in the spring.

Kelly’s Whitewater Park will be one of the largest and most unique around. And it is completely free to the public to boat or just watch the fun.

Mayor Dick Carter returned from Walla Walla, Wash., last week with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permit for Kelly’s Whitewater Park and workers filled coffer bags with sand.

Shane Sigle of Recreation Engineering and Planning in Boulder, Colo., said the point of the coffer dams is to minimize the environmental effect of the structures, keeping the water level lower in that space as the manmade feature is constructed.

“It allows us to construct in the dry part of the river,” he said.

REP has designed and engineered parks ranging from just one rapid to the National Whitewater Center in Charlotte, N.C., a $21 million facility that pumps more than 1,500 cubic feet per second of water from the bottom of the course to the top to allow year-round boating for all levels of paddlers from Olympic champions to beginning rafters.

There are four main rapids there in the North Fork of the Payette River, as well as two smaller ones near the west bank for practice and learning to kayak.

Rapids 3 and 4 feature “U-drop” structures.

“They will be the signature whitewater drops,” Sigle said. “It is anticipated that the features will be used in the competition events.”

U-drops “create a variety of recreational whitewater features, everything from beginners’ swirly, boiling water to competition size.”

A U-drop creates a kind of smile line when you come upon it from upstream. That U shape is inherently safer than other features you may find on a river, which allows paddlers to play on it literally for hours if their strength lasts that long.

“There’s no hydraulic created that can trap anybody there,” he said.

That U-drop feature creates the wave where kayakers can loop and spin. At certain water levels, it becomes a “surf wave” where they can hover motionless on the foam pile created by the water.

From the center of the U-drop, the sides are slanted upwards toward either river bank. That means the rapid is functioning from low to higher water.

One feature includes “deflectors” on each side of the rapid. Sigle said the flow created by those additions is less powerful and ideal for beginners to practice.

The boulders currently are being moved in to their ultimate location. They are placed at a predetermined elevation and will displace water according to engineering specifics.

Grouting is used between boulders placed on the riverbanks adjacent to the rapids so onlookers can watch competition events or recreational boating without trapping an ankle.

“There’s going to be little kids there,” Sigle said. “You think about a 2-year-old kid and what you have to do to make them safe.”

Mark and Kristina Pickard of Miami and Tamarack Resort have made the whole project possible with their financial support and with their ideas going into Kelly’s Whitewater Park, to honor Kristina’s late sister, Kelly Brennan.

You don’t find six rapids and the “welcome center” under way in many places around the country.

“As far as sheer size, it’s going to be one of the larger parks,” Sigle said. “There isn’t the population nearby such at the Reno park or Golden, Colo., but this park is right up there.”

The center will feature several tiers for people to watch the action in the river, as well as holding community events. There also will be an exhibit detailing the industries which built Valley County, such as timber, ranching and mining. And some vintage kayaks are anticipated.

“The welcome center will be an amazing feature,” Sigle said. “Lots of parks are built and people don’t have the insight for that. This park will allow not only boating, but also some place where people can go and recreate, have a picnic.

“It says a lot for the vision of Mark and Kristina,” he said

269 Posts
Rad! Here's hoping that Cascade gets a big influx of boaters this summer. Just think about it: a play park above a II/III run (Cabarton) above one of the best V runs in the world. And, the flow is guaranteed to be at least 1,500 cfs all summer long.

Up until this park Payettes had everything but reliable play (sorry the Gutter does not and never will count). Now we're getting a brand new park that will be in all season. And to think it took Cascade two years to do what Boise has been talking about for almost a decade. I am so stoked to go surf this thing!

124 Posts
I have always said the NF was my favorite river in the world. Add a sick play can't be beat. Now if we can just get the funding for the Boise park.
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