Gore Canyon park dedication floats whitewater enthusiasts’ boats — the Sky-Hi Daily News #ColoradoRiver

Upper Colorado Gore Canyon whitewater park

From the Sky-Hi Daily News (Marissa Lorenz):

More than 100 people gathered at the Pumphouse Recreation area south of Kremmling on Monday, July 13, for the official ribbon-cutting of the newly opened Gore Canyon Whitewater Park.

The park, completed in March, consists of a man-made underwater structure that creates a series of waves stretching across the Upper Colorado River. The resulting “park and play” area offers a space for kayakers, stand-up paddle boarders and other whitewater enthusiasts to cycle through the waves repeatedly or to continue downstream.

It is the fruition of a five-month-long construction project, designed by Jason Carey of RiverRestoration and built by Bryan Kissner and Kissner Construction. And Monday was an idyllic day to revel in its completion…

However, the whitewater park is merely the physical manifestation of a five-year collaborative effort for legal water rights, fishery protection, and increased recognition and value for non-consumptive water uses in Colorado and the American West.

And it was as much, if not more, the commemoration of this less tangible victory that brought commissioners from Grand, Eagle, and Summit counties together with other invested government employees, water conservationists, water advocates, water planners, water engineers, water attorneys, water recreators, and every other sort of water lover to both celebrate and experience first-hand the success of the Gore Canyon Recreational In-Channel Diversion.

Grand County has been the project lead since its inception in 2010. With support from Commissioners Merrit Linke, James Newberry and then-Commissioner Gary Bumgarner, the county would navigate practical, legal, and funding hurdles. They would be the primary donor, with government and citizens giving over $600,000 toward the $1.7 million project.

It was fitting then that Linke would preside over Monday’s ceremony, introducing and expressing gratitude to the project’s many partners. Recognized were fellow funders from Eagle County ($349,000), the Colorado Basin Roundtable ($100,000), Colorado Department of Local Affairs ($200,000), and the Colorado Water Conservation Board ($400,000). Other essential supporters such as Summit County, Denver Water, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Forest Service, and American Whitewater were introduced and appreciated…

“Government timelines are like geologic time,” joked Linke, “and this was like lightning speed.”

“The times they are a changin’,” quoted April Montgomery of the Colorado Water Conservation Board, whose $400,000 contribution to the project was their first to be granted to a recreational water right. She praised the project as courageous and said, “It’s exciting to be on-board at a time when recreational water rights are being recognized and valued on par with traditional consumptive rights, such as for agriculture and industry.”[…]

Nathan Fey of American Whitewater, a stakeholder in the Upper Colorado Wild and Scenic River designation and management efforts, explained that the project was praiseworthy for its ability to create a new water feature with a very small ecological footprint.

“Because of the existing recreation area, the park and observation deck do not conflict with the existing uses and can fill a niche for a Class III park in the area,” he explained. “Of 28 RICDs in the state, it is the first on the Upper Colorado and the water rights that accompany it will support local industry and protect against the threat of a water call, shepherding the water downstream to maximizing water use throughout the state.”

Once introductions, acknowledgments, and remarks were all made, the bevy of water-fans made their way down the newly constructed sandstone steps to the base of the water feature itself. Linke cut the official ribbon and cheers were sent up in salute…

For more information about the Gore Canyon Recreational In-Channel Diversion project, contact Caroline Bradford, Project Coordinator at CarolineBradford@wildblue.net.

For information about the Pumphouse Recreation Area, or recreating on the Upper Colorado River, contact the Bureau of Land Management, Kremmling Field Office at 970-724-3000. Information on commercial rafting companies can be had by contacting the Kremmling Area Chamber of Commerce at 970-724-3472 or Vail Chamber and Business Association at 970-477-0075.

More whitewater coverage here.

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