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Discussion Starter #1
specifically Colorado parks.

Momentum is building in the northeast for some parks,and since Colorado has so many, it is the best model. But, there are a few questions/differences. Many people have this impression of Colorado as a mecca of whitewater, with a park every 20 miles, a world class play spot at every single park, and a season that runs from April 1st to October 31st.

So, Colorado has defintely created the dream. But, what is the reality?
How long to the parks run high or low?
How far between the parks?
How many are actually finished and paddleable right now?
How long did they take to be built, from idea to reality?
Are they really that good?

(If anyone wants to help the northeast out directly, then go here)
 

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Learn from Colorado's mistakes:

1. Have features that are good to go even at the lowest of flows if at all possible. Up until a few yearas ago, Denver had a wave that you could flat spin at 115 cfs. Yeah it sucked, but it was better than not boating. You probably won't have this problem in the NE quite like we do, since you have more water.

2. Make every feature count. Golden has a ton of drops, and really only one is decent, and then only at medium flows and up. If you have 20 feet of gradient, you should use all 20 feet to create good, playable features. The benefit is that there is more to do and less crowding in the eddy = more boaters will want to come = increased revenue for the host city.

3. Put the park on a stretch of water that runs year-round. Glenwood Springs is planning a park which will run year-round, and may well change that city into a new destination living place for boaters.

To answer some of your other questions, I suggest you run a search here to find some of the many threads that have compiled lists of the parks. It seems most of the notable towns here have one.

Are they that good? Well, I for one can't make it out to South Canyon after work, so yeah, I like having a ww park around, no matter how crummy the feature, short the season, or dirty the water. The sad thing about most ww parks in Colorado is the fact that they left out the last 2% of the work - making sure the features are playable - and that is the most important part. Having said that, I think people have picked up on that and we've seen marked improvement in the last several years here.

Gets me thinking....how sweet would it be if the dam at Confluence was instead made as a multi-channel rapid/waterfall? Urban park-and-huck... :shock:
 

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Many people have this impression of Colorado as a mecca of whitewater, with a park every 20 miles, a world class play spot at every single park, and a season that runs from April 1st to October 31st.
After paddling between Colorado and the North East for the past few years, i'd have to say... Yeah, it sorta is that good here.

On the front range there are somewhere in the neighborhood of 5 or so whitewater parks linked to one another by no more that 20 miles drive. Granted, the epic'ness of these parks is limited during typical flows, but be it the 2-3 weeks of peak flows or the occasional downpour that kicks up the levels, I think we are fairly spoiled by some pretty tip top features.

I find that many boaters out here are quick to point out how the ww parks should be better, or that we don't have enough water -- I guess I can understand that point of view to some extent, but after 2 seasons spent in the NE I'm really glad to be back here where a good winter of snow will almost awayse translate into a good season of boating. And, I can be on any number of rivers/ww parks within 30 minutes door to door. I can't think of many other metro areas around the country afford a playboater so many options.

When I lived in boston, I was really put off by the infrequence of playboating opertunities within a reasonable drive of the city. I'd be stoaked for you if you guys could get somthing consistant going. CrackPipe, up in manchester, definetely seems like a potential candidate for a ww park. Maybe Skowvegas - but damn thats a long drive for most.

good luck with it.[/b]
 

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Dude, in CT you have Tville, one of the nicest natural, easily accessible park and play spots anywhere. One of the holes is sweet most of the year and many afternoons I had the place all to myself. What more could you ask for?

I miss that place. Course, I live in the dustbowl.
 

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Len said:
I find that many boaters out here are quick to point out how the ww parks should be better, or that we don't have enough water -- I guess I can understand that point of view to some extent, but after 2 seasons spent in the NE I'm really glad to be back here where a good winter of snow will almost awayse translate into a good season of boating.
Yep, all in the perspective. I cut my teeth in the SE, home of eddy-serviced play features, so I am generally not so hot on CO playboating (compare Ocoee v. Numbers). My perspective is also shaped by some years in Chicago, where there is year-round water and no one interested in whitewater parks.

BTW what gives with calling a creek a "pond" up in the NE? Always wondered...
 

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The BV hole had one feature last year, and it was epic. The Salida park has a few features, and one is still epic, with another damn good one. BV is rowdy, Salida is friendly. Combined the Ark valley has probably a total of 4 man made features in two parks. They run good from April to August. Easy to learn, and you can still go big.

Denver has three parks, with something like a combined 25+ features, and all of them suck for 90% of the year (conversely, they used to all have at least one good feature, but the good spots are disappearing). They are too shallow to teach good freestyle habits, too small to allow for big tricks, and the 10% of the time when you would want to go because the level is right, the pollution is at its worst or the water levels are nearing peak and you'd rather be at a real river anyways.

To top it all off, the rumored new agenda for the front ranges biggest park is to make it more slalom friendly and more innertuber friendly, as if it isn't already shitty enough. Slalom was created to teach people how to run harder whitewater (old school creekers), and now they want to make it easier! Go to a lake if you want easier (its a better environment to learn in for freestyle basics). Make big features in the rivers. Tell the inner tubers to go big or go home, and the young tubers will figure out that kayaking is a lot cooler anyway.

Don't make an ALL begginer park. Make different features for different levels of paddlers.

Steve, you are right on with the Denver park and huck...
 

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Existing WW Parks in CO...

Steamboat Springs
Denver
Longmont
Golden
Lyons
Ft. Collins
Breckenridge
Vail
Aspen
Gunnison
Salida

Existing WW Parks w/ pending water rights...

Pueblo
Buena Vista
Silverthorne
Boulder

Towns/Counties considering kayak parks and/or RICD water rights...

Avon
Eagle County
Glenwood Springs
Palisade
Durango
Rifle
 

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Cutch said:
To top it all off, the rumored new agenda for the front ranges biggest park is to make it more slalom friendly and more innertuber friendly, as if it isn't already shitty enough.
If that happens, it will be tragic. Long before IR proclaimed rodeo is dead, slalom died of natural causes. It will always have a following, but it will never be the big deal it was in the 70s and 80s. Don't get me wrong - slalom is money for the individual paddler. Most of the best creekers I know are former racers, but they were also the last generation to really be interested in running gates.

A good park can accomodate both wicked freestyle and serious slalom, though - the Upper Ocoee is the benchmark for that -- Smiley's is a world-class hole and great racers swim every year after blowing the move above Humongous. Also a good freestyle park is by definition tuber-friendly. The only places I can think of near here where people would maybe die tubing in a park are Widowmaker and Farmington(?). The best holes flush a swimmer anyway and waves don't even stop them. This could be a nightmare if someone in the right position gets the wrong ideas about what makes a good ww park.
 

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Tie the river to the community

Something I've noticed in the East since growing up there and moving west: many communities there have really abused, then turned their backs on the rivers that were originally their livelyhood. A good park can bring the river back into the community and help the community grow around it. Study Salida, CO for isntance. There are designers out there who can do a better job of describing the advantages.

Be ready to tackle permitting through the Army Corps of Engineers among other agencies. A designer can also help with that.
 

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Scott,

I have one name for you...Gary Lacy. (http://www.wwparks.com) He is the man when it come to whitewater parks. He did ours here in Pueblo. We have 8 features on a stretch of the Arkansas River which runs right through downtown Pueblo, Colorado. We had a problem with one of the features recirculating and they came back and have just repaired in time for this coming season.

Our park is also what they call a fish ladder which also makes the local fishermen very happy. The division of wildlife planned on stocking this stretch of river with several thousand trout. However, after the Army Corps of engineers finished with the work in the river the fish had new habitat and the population went through the roof! I guess fish like tasty waves too!

Our park is still taking shape and our flows with 4 exceptions are based on flows dictated by calls for water from shareholders downstream.

Pueblo is more in the prairie than most of Colorado's other parks. We get the warmest weather of all the parks in the state and some of the warmest water since it sits around in a reservoir before it gets to our park. Feel free to drop by if you are ever in the neighborhood. I'd be happy to show you around.

-Bryan Kelsen
Sec. Pueblo Paddlers
 

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I believe Colorado should be a model as the mentioned Gary Lacy is a local and should be considered a pioneer in developing whitewater parks. But what is also important and what I think truly sells this type of river renovation is that its not just a whitewater park but a "river restoration" that can be enjoyed by everyone. It creates a place for picnics, relaxing by the river, fishing, tubing, swimming and everything in between. There are a lot of case studies here in Colorado where areas that were once a garbage pit have become the center for recreation. Lyons and Golden are good examples and have proven that the local economy has grown directly as a result of the whitewater park. It simply makes sense, think about it, these towns were originated because of the river as source of agriculture, drinking water, and the like so why let them die off as an eye sore? The river is why I moved here and I know a lot of people who can say the same.

To answer your questions, typically, the water starts to taper off around the end of July but we are currently in the works to build a new hole here in Lyons that will run exactly til October 31st thanks to a diversion from a lake. So, your dates will be correct once its built.

As far as a hole every 20 miles, not so accurate but not too far off either. As the post above says, there are a lot here in Colorado.

Somewhere there is a study that shows how much revenue was brought into Golden CO since the kayak park was built. That should help in your effort to convince the town gov to start setting aside the funds to restore or just build a kayak park in your town. Like I said, it just makes sense, not just for kayakers but for everyone.

Good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
clarification

just to clarify and so you guys know more about where I'm coming from...

I was at the ww courses and parks conference in Glenwood Springs in October, met lots of key people, including Gary Lacy. Great great informative weekend. The benefits of a park, beyond whitewater are obvioius to me, and it is key to communicate what any given town will get in return for having a ww park. I understand that.

My motivation for starting this thread is a state of low morale, the seemingly insurmountable task of starting a ww park project. Seems that many people in the northeast have this picture of Colorado as a place that has always had super wonderful ww parks that run for 6 months out of the year, with perfect water levels, and they are all within 30 minutes of each other. I know that is not really true. Each project took years to complete, volunteers spend long long hours convincing all the right people that a ww park is a beneficial thing for a town.

What I am looking for is some honest, real perspective on how long these things take to get done.
How much work it takes.
What the problems are, such as wanting a big water spot, but facing the reality of low water for most of the year.

Spring is good for Colorado. Spring is good for the northeast. Since we are really just starting to get going on this ww park thing, we would like to learn from Colorado's mistakes (it's not a neg. on Colorado, just that Colorado has done lots of the difficult work of learning, and we should be smart enough to study what has been learned)

So again...

1. other than the Denver area, how far apart are various ww parks? Like Durango to Pueblo (for example)

2. if your local park could be redone, what would you change?

3. how long is your optimal season? your "useable" season?

4. what other problems do you see?

5. what things were really done well?


Note: I've been to Confluence, Golden, Durango at very low water. Been to Durango at about 2000cfs too. Using Durango as my guage, I can see that Golden and Confluence can be pretty sweet with good water.

thanks. Your posts have been VERY helpful so far. Hopefully we can get some ww parks going so that there is some more reliable water for events. Since the New England season starts just a bit earlier than Colorado, and the rains hit us a little bit in October, I can envision a pretty comprehensive U.S. event circuit in the future....
 

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1. other than the Denver area, how far apart are various ww parks? Like Durango to Pueblo (for example)

-- Everywhere from 45 minutes to 6+ hours apart. Mapquest can tell you specifics.

2. if your local park could be redone, what would you change?

-- I think there is a consensus that every man-made drop should be playable. Out here I think there is also a consensus that we should have tried to make some waves instead of only holes.

3. how long is your optimal season? your "useable" season?

-- I would say optimal is 6 weeks, usable 10 weeks for most folks, but longer if you are exceedingly desperate. Snowpack varies across the different watersheds, though.

4. what other problems do you see?

-- The only problems I find in our parks are non-playable man-made features, which results in crowding at the good features. Colorado has a very outdoor-minded population. If your locale is not similar, you may have problems getting people to see the benefit. People know that Golden gets boater traffic because there are a lot of boaters in Denver. So places like Lyons are more willing to spend on a park when they can see the success in another town they know. One other problem at some places is that large boulders are used to construct drops and they aren't chinked with concrete. This hasn't led to a tuber's foot entrapment yet that I know of, but it will happen someday. A nearby water fountain would be nice. When there is a good feature, you forget most of the shortcomings - they just don't matter as much when you are ripping things up.

5. what things were really done well?

-- Some places have changing areas (not that half of us don't ignore them) and those can be helpful. Denver located Confluence right near an area where lots of people go to hang out, so it's sometimes a little like being at the park (normal kind) - i.e., everyone in a good mood, dogs chasing frisbees, and beautiful women reading a book on the rock making the eddy you're in. Same deal in Boulder, but somehow, they manage to attract rednecks galore. Seriously, last time I ran E-Buttress the park looked like the takeout to the Green Narrows (a.k.a. Redneck Riviera). Union has great parking, which is nice. Same with Golden. I think the big thing done right in these parks has also been location. If you locate in a populous area, it will get a lot of use. If you locate rurally (Steamboat) but have a good enough feature, people will travel for it (esp. if there is also creeking nearby). People will also travel for a feature that is good in the shoulder-season; this is the goal for the October Hole in Lyons.

The good news for you is that if what is true for CO is true for the NE, one park begets another, and then another.

Mike Harvey (that's also his handle on the Buzz) could probably give you some perspective on the timeline issue, having been involved with the BV park (I think he designed it, no?) I would send him a PM or see if he chimes in here.
 

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Scott,
I spearheaded much of the Whitewater Park stuff in Lyons. The first concept of the WWP was in about 1998. Construction started in fall of 2002. Gary Lacy actually did some earlier work here in the late eighties for a fishing for fun project, which is the basis for the Black bear Hole and A-Hole. They have since been improved. The challenging part is the political process in working with the Town, the Park and Rec director, the 404 permit and raising money. You will need to respond to liability concerns, private property concerns and numerous doubters. Learn pragmatism! Develop a strong team of people that have your same vision and be ready to carry the workload on this, since you are probably the most passionate about this. Most people do not realize that many WWP are done by a volunteer that is donating his time to do it.

As for money, we have raised money totally separate from the town and donated the $ ($27,000 now) to the town for construction. We also won the first GOCO grant for a whitewater park in Colorado ($110,000). Both of these efforts take 3-4 months to complete and a lot of work. I do not know if you state has a grant process, but you should check. Doing a fundraiser is nice since you do not have to answer to any town board and go through the budget process (P.S.-it can take a year to get in a town budget) and it really wins them over. See the numerous posts we bombarded Mountainbuzz with a few weeks ago! Again, we started on the October Hole project 2-3 years ago and will hopefully be built it in a few weeks. Try for just one feature to begin with if you cannot get the whole enchilada for a park.

The fun part is actually building the hole, but that is only a small part of the entire process. As for building a park, realize that 99% of the people that will provide you with advice on how to build a feature have never built one themselves. It is a difficult task to get a feature to work. You are working in a huge dry hole in the river with irregular rocks, a huge piece of equipment, a tight budget, a short timeline, a cranky operator, mechanical problems, possibly 8” ice in the river and shitty weather. You have to control water pouring into the hole and many, many unknowns, so it is not realistic to believe that every feature will work the way you envisioned. If you can get 1 out 5 features to work, then I would be damn happy. You can actually duplicate a hole that works awesome in one river and it will not be worth a crap in another. Each feature has a unique location due to gradient, speed, riverbed makeup, straightness, pool height, river banks, and depth. Develop thick skin, because there is no shortage of critics.

As for features, realize that many of the users will be beginner kayakers and tubers. Therefore, you should try to make the features fun and varied. In hindsight, I would have added in a few boof rocks in the features, splat rocks, boulder gardens and multiple channels in a feature. Provide some variety other than cartwheeling holes, because in 5 years everyone will be looking for something different. (I.E.- try for rodeo holes where the river is straight and has some speed, since you need uniformity.)

As for changes it is imperative to get the Town to pony up for $4-$5k each year for river maintenance to tweak a feature. You can improve them to some degree. BTW, the US army corps of Engineers will get tired of this.

Our season will start at the end April with low water, peak in June and then taper off through the end of July. In Lyons, we are building a unique feature to Colorado that will hopefully carry us through October, but that is unusual. That is if it “works”.

Also, develop a keen sense of where you can get large boulders free, because they are expensive to buy. You will also need to provide ample seating for people just hanging out, feature boulders along a path and river access for swimmers, fishermen, and tubers. Like it or not the tubers will come at low water and it will need to be safe for them.

Arn
 

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Colorado does have a lot of parks and they are almost all interesting but few are perfect or ideal, if that is possible.

While it is easy to place boulders and cement in a river to create drops/features, it's not that easy to create good waves and to achieve full potential of a location.

As above, I also strongly recommend hiring a professional. They have a lot of knowledge and experience. They will give you good answers to the questions you are asking. They are cheaper than the actual building of the park and they add a lot of value.


Good luck!
 

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For getting a park built, you generally need a town government to push it. The best reasons for a kayak park are generally along the lines of revitalizing a river, being part of a new in-town park/greenway, or bringing in money. Making us kayakers happy generally doesn't carry much weight with town government.

Getting the town politics to support it and getting the money is the hard part. The town politicians are often not outdoor people and they need to be taught how a kayak park can help them. This is perhaps where Colorado has the biggest advantage--many of our town governments understand the importance of outdoor recreation since that is where our tourist dollars come from.

The economic study for the Golden kayak park would probably be the strongest evidence to convince town governments that this can work.

Also, show these guys pictures of East coast rivers that are normally dry until a dam opens once a week. Show them how in one hour, the river transforms from a dry deserted place to a place hopping with people because of good white water. This shows that if you build it, people will come.
 

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bjett,
Are ther really existing playparks in Longmont,Aspen ,and Ft. Collins?If so where?I thought Ft. C onlt had 1 feature and people working on raising money and planning.

This may be a pipe dream but I think the future of playparks lay in portable ,temporary ,adjustable features, and pay to play manmade diversions channels.Someone would ,in theory,fabricate a multi-chambered bladder anchored to the streambed by sand bags or rocks.The chambers could be inflated seperately to varying pressures to modify the shape as needed at different flows,when its time to remove it you simple inflate more to make it too bouyant for the anchors to hold and un tether it.
Another version would be to seat post into bedrock on the side of the river and slide a gate with female recepticles at spaced intervals over it,essentiaslly a hinge,another post would be set near the hole to act as a sort of doorstop.The gate ,I am envisioning hollow plastic, would then be waited down on top with sandbags to force it down onto the streambed so noone became entrapped underneath it. The gates would act as constictors and could be adjusted at the female part to widen or narrow the slot.I believe the course in Athens used a concept similar to the gates.
The owner of the bladder would move it /them around to different venues and charge a couple bucks to use it. I am sure there a legal obstacles to this commercial use of rivers.. I am not trying to undermine nature,but we are talking manmade features,if your a purist just go to the wilderness and boat in peace. Just a crazy thought.
 

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cayo, that was the list I recieved from the folks working on the RICD bill at the Colorado Environmental Coalition. I am the Cartographer/GIS tech for CEC, and I've put together a map with all this info and data, including economic benefits. If anyone knows for sure that this is incorrect info, please let me know.

Some economic numbers/estimates...

Chaffee County:
$80 million: Total beneficial use of all types of recreation
on the river.

Steamboat Springs:
$7.2+ mill. : Estimated Total Beneficial use value / yr.
of the water diverted to the steamboat RICD
$82.4 million : Estimated Total Beneficial use value / yr.
over the next 20 years.

Vail:
$1.8 mill : Future estimatied annual benefits of waters
diverted in Gore Creek within Vail
$20.6 mill.: Future estimatied annual benefits of waters
diverted in Gore Creek within Vail over 20 years

Breckenridge:
$1.4 mill : Future estimated annual benefits of waters
diverted into kayak park
$16.1 mill : Future estimated annual benefits of waters
diverted into kayak park over 20 years

Golden:
$1.36 mill - 2.03 mill: Total Beneficial use per year
 

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bjett,
Thanks,wasn't trying to give you a hard time. There were some recent posts about Ft . Collins
and I am pretty sure I would know if Longmont had one since a couple boating bros live up there. I could see Aspen putting one together in short order,plenty of money and movers and shakers up there.
Surprised noone ripped my hairbrain engineering or paying to play ideas.I love nature especially rivers,but would definately be a regular at a kayakers waterworld.
 

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Yeah, I didnt think Longmont had a park, but that was the list to go on from the "water" people...Ill correct the map. Thanks.

So...does Aspen have a ww park??

B
 
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