From The Denver Post (Scott Willoughby):
Officials from Grand, Eagle and Summit counties joined representatives from the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, Dept. of Local Affairs, Colorado Water Conservation Board, American Whitewater and about 100 others on the banks of the Colorado River on Monday to formally dedicate the new Gore Canyon Whitewater Park at the BLM Pumphouse Recreation Site south of Kremmling.
The $1.7 million wave feature, some six years in the making, is viewed as much more than a play spot for kayakers and river surfers. To those who have rallied support for the complex collaboration, the structure imbedded between boat launches at the rec site represents the symbolic cornerstone of a plan designed to keep the upper Colorado River flowing healthy for many years to come.
“The significance of the wave is that it creates a way to permanently protect the flows for boating on the upper Colorado River,” said project coordinator Caroline Bradford of Eagle. “This whitewater park investment protects the quality of life for locals who love the river and provides a great experience for over 75,000 people who float on this reach of the Colorado River each year.”
While the benefit to kayakers and standup paddlers (SUP) is readily evident in the frothy pile of surf-friendly white foam stretching nearly the width of the river, others stand to reap rewards as well.
The concrete structure would mean nothing without the complementing recreational in-channel diversion (RICD) water rights ranging between 860-1,500 cubic feet per second from April 5-Oct. 15, annually. That’s an obvious boon to fish and fishermen frequenting the reach of river recognized with the highest number of fish per mile along the length of the Colorado. And it clearly benefits whitewater rafting outfitters and local boaters seeking a spot to float.
Interestingly enough, the symbiotic relationship between rocks and water in the river runs both ways when it comes to the man-made version. Colorado water law requires a man-made, engineered structure before the flows in any waterway can be legally protected. So without the new feature, there was no guarantee.
“The times they are a changin’,” CWCB board member April Montgomery said at Monday’s dedication. “Colorado Water Conservation Board is evolving too, and we now recognize the importance of recreational uses of water right along with agriculture, municipal and industrial.”
More whitewater coverage here.