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Discussion Starter #1
6:00 PM on Thursday, October 30th.
Location: 301 N 29th St, Boise, ID, Whittier Elementary Gymnasium
Contact: Kathy Barrett 208 384 4060 ext 326

Please consider attending this meeting to share your thoughts on the new whitewater park in Boise. Word on the street is that the feature formerly known as 36th Street Wave will be modified to create a playable feature that works during low flow on up to flood. There are also rumors about this feature being adjustable, a la the bladder system that was recently installed in Vail, CO or the hydraulic lift system at the ASCI whitewater center in MD.

Do any Buzzards have some feedback on the Vail system that I can cite at the meeting? Do adjustable features really work or are they an expensive gimmick? Specifically, who adjusts the feature and who decides what type of feature the bladder is set for? Also, how have other park designs balanced the need for both beginner and intermediate-expert level features? What other types of features, besides play waves and holes, do people use and enjoy at their whitewater park?

My concern for the Boise Park is that the designers will be taking the feature with the most potential for and 'expert' or 'competition' feature and making it into something less dynamic, but more accessible for beginners. The issue is that there are lots of places to make a mellow playspot in the stretch being used for the Boise Park, but there is only one place (36th St. Wave) that has the gradient to make a big dynamic feature suitable for competitions on the national or international level.
 

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6:00 PM on Thursday, October 30th.
Location: 301 N 29th St, Boise, ID, Whittier Elementary Gymnasium
Contact: Kathy Barrett 208 384 4060 ext 326

Please consider attending this meeting to share your thoughts on the new whitewater park in Boise. Word on the street is that the feature formerly known as 36th Street Wave will be modified to create a playable feature that works during low flow on up to flood. There are also rumors about this feature being adjustable, a la the bladder system that was recently installed in Vail, CO or the hydraulic lift system at the ASCI whitewater center in MD.

Do any Buzzards have some feedback on the Vail system that I can cite at the meeting? Do adjustable features really work or are they an expensive gimmick? Specifically, who adjusts the feature and who decides what type of feature the bladder is set for? Also, how have other park designs balanced the need for both beginner and intermediate-expert level features? What other types of features, besides play waves and holes, do people use and enjoy at their whitewater park?

My concern for the Boise Park is that the designers will be taking the feature with the most potential for and 'expert' or 'competition' feature and making it into something less dynamic, but more accessible for beginners. The issue is that there are lots of places to make a mellow playspot in the stretch being used for the Boise Park, but there is only one place (36th St. Wave) that has the gradient to make a big dynamic feature suitable for competitions on the national or international level.


Vail's Bladder system is awesome!!!!! Except over 1000cfs they deflate,Iam not sure why. I hope they dont do anything to 36st.There is another low head dam up stream thats really wide cant they do it there, 36st is a prefect high water feature they shouldnt mess with it.
 

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I haven't been to Vail since the bladder system but I've paddled ASCI at pretty much every flow and probably a half dozen different configurations. The Waveshapers are super sick: they are the future of whitewater parks. Simply by changing the elevation at the top of the drop and the angle the water drops at, they can move from a huge hole for sick loops to fast and bouncy wave to a friendly and beginner-safe wave. In general, the feature will probably have one ideal configuration for a given range of flows so it would ideally only have to be adjusted a couple times a season (low water, medium, high, and then back down to medium and low at the end). Then obviously, the feature could be fine tuned for events whether it's changing it for a big rodeo, a beginner's clinic, or swiftwater rescue courses. I would guess that someone from the city would have to adjust the feature. This would mean either having someone who knows what they're doing adjust it or having a setup where any old joeschmoe that works for the city can adjust it to 'X' and 'Y' settings for a certain type of feature at a certain flow. Ultimately, like everything else in this world, I'm sure the process will be able to be automated so that a sensor reads the flow from a gauge and automatically adjusts the feature to a pre-programmed configuration.

I would be pumped beyond words to have a waveshaper going into my local river, especially from a guy with a record like Turner.
 

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the bladder systems are all variations on a technology that has been around for a while...just never applied for whitewater until recently. they are very expensive, but if cost is not an issue it is a proven technology that works in big and small rivers. I happen to think that for natural rivers, bladders, or something like them, are a great option to solve the big problem of having good play at lower flows without causing floodplain issues at higher flows. the main problem right now for most communities is cost.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
You don't have to tell a guy from Boise that a bladder system can make sicko features. We benefit greatly from a bladder dam on the Payette that was never meant to be a kayaking destination, yet at the right flows it creates one of the best waves I have ever surfed.

Count, if you can compare, how did the ASCI features stack up to other artificial waves/holes that you have paddled? Glenwood Springs is the only good purpose-built whitewater feature that I have paddled, and it is not adjustable. Then again, my WW park experience is pretty small (never paddled to Salida, Steamboat, BV, Reno, etc.).

Mike, I think you are right on about cost. I also know that potential floodplain impacts are a major concern for the Boise park. As far as I know, the Boise WW Park has ~$2.5 million in the bank, with a projected cost in the $4 million ball park, which makes it the most expensive in-stream park that I know of. My concern is that a large percentage of the money will go towards a single feature rather than a whole stretch of river. Then again, maybe the feedback has been that Boise wants a rodeo hole, downriver paddling be damned. I guess we'll see at the meeting.
 

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I thought that ASCI was one of the best man-made parks I have paddled. The only ones that I think are better are Salida for a hole feature and Durango (but it keeps blowing out). Glenwood is in the same playing field. The awesome thing about ASCI is how much they do with so little flow. You're looking at 300-500cfs depending on what combination of pumps they're running and it's creating features that are just as good as the locations mentioned above with 2,000-5,000cfs. The awesome thing with the waveshapers will be the fact that you'll be able to have a kickass feature at a very large range of flows (which the Boise River certainly experiences to a greater extent than a lot of smaller CO rivers with parks like Vail, Frisco, Breck, etc.).

I don't know how USACE views the topic but I believe the floodplain is better or worse for different configurations so theoretically in times of flood, it could be adjusted to minimize the floodplain affects downstream.

It is pretty expensive for one feature but it comes down to a little bit of personal preference, too. I would much rather see somewhere with just one or two awesome features (like Glenwood or Salida) versus somewhere with a dozen mediocre features (Golden, Boulder, etc.). Also, if you have a successful feature that benefits boaters, the town, etc. I think you would have an easier time getting the financial backing for further additions and improvements in the future.

My .02.

COUNT
 

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Discussion Starter #7
For those of you interested in this sort of thing, here are my observations from last night's Boise WW Park Meeting.

The City of Boise Parks and Recreation along with representatives of McLaughlin Water Engineers presented the updated design for the whitewater park and the preliminary design of the planned Ester Simplot Park. First I have to say that the city appears to be doing its level best to include all of the stakeholders in the design process. The stretch of river where the park will be built has two irrigation diversions with water rights extending back to the mid-1800's. Thus, one major challenge for the design is to maintain these diversions while improving the safety, recreational opportunities, and riparian habitat of the river. Creating a whitewater park without altering the existing floodplain is another major design challenge.

As it stands now, the plan is to begin demolishing the upstream Thurman Mill diversion (the site of the 36th Street Wave) and replacing it with a new navigable and adjustable structure in the Fall of 2009. As presented last night, the design of this structure includes both a Vail-style Bladder system and a ASCI-style "Waveshaper". According to park designer Nick Turner, the Waveshaper will provide a year-round boatable channel while at higher flows the Bladder system will allow for a fully adjustable whitewater feature. It was unclear from the presentation what flows would be needed to spill enough water over the bladder portion of the structure to create a feature without disrupting the irrigation diversion.

Four or five conventional fixed whitewater features were also included in the plan. However, there was not much detail provided about these features, possibly due to ongoing negotiations with the downstream diversion controlled by the Farmer's Union Ditch Co. Other improvements to the site include: bank terracing/stabilization, improved riparian habitat, raised viewing areas, and a "lazy river" connecting three ponds adjacent to the the river. Turner stated that the whitewater portion of the park is being designed for a beginner to intermediate skill set, but that the adjustability of the Thurman Mill feature will allow for a competition-worthy spot at normal summer flows ~1,200 cfs.

During the question and answer session, community members raised a host of issues. Some boaters where concerned about how the park would handle sediment and flood debris. A concerned citizen questioned the impact that park would have on the bald eagles that can be seen on the stretch during the winter months. Others raised questions about the location of access, the city's plans for educating the public about river safety, traffic congestion and safety near the entrance to the park, and plans for providing a natural park setting suitable for "unstructured play."

All in all, the Boise WW park apears to be on track to begin the first phase of consrtuction next Fall, with the adjustable feature in place by spring 2010. The second phase of construction, which will install the downstream features, is planned to start in the Fall of 2010. However, only about $2 million of the projected $6 million total cost has been committed to date. In appreciation of the Neef family's generous $1 million donation to the project the park will be known as Ray Neef, MD River Recreation Park. Additional funds have been contributed by the city of Boise and private donations through Friends of the Park (Support the Boise River Recreation Park). The park is an exciting development for paddlers in the Boise area and it promises to greatly improve the aesthetics, safety, and habitat on this stretch of river.
 
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