‘This is really a gem now,’ Poudre River Whitewater Park opens with a splash — The Rocky Mountain Collegian

Photo credit: Rocky Mountain Collegian

From The Rocky Mountain Collegian (Ceci Taylor):

Sounds of the Poudre River rolling over rocks, children and adults laughing and screaming and live music could be heard just north of Old Town at the Poudre River Whitewater Park Saturday.

An ongoing project since 2014, the Poudre River Whitewater Park was finally opened to the public [October 23, 2019].

A number of people spoke at the ribbon-cutting event, including Fort Collins Mayor Wade Troxell, Councilmember Susan Gutowsky, local business owner and project donor Jack Graham and City Manager Darin Atteberry.

“This is really a gem now in Fort Collins, and I’m really excited to be here today and to appreciate all the things this great City can do for the people of Fort Collins,” Troxell said. “The Poudre River is indeed a treasure, and we must guard it, and we must protect it and we must also enjoy it.”

Alex Mcintosh, a Fort Collins resident and kayaker, said the construction of the Whitewater Park in Fort Collins means a lot to him as a kayaker.

“I think it will bring a bunch of different subcultures and communities together: fishermen, rafters and people during the summer for tubing,” Mcintosh said. “It’s nice to see they’ve taken the initiative to create something in town for everyone to enjoy and learn and educate themselves about the river.”

Fort Collins community members kayak and sit on the shore of the Poudre River during the grand opening of the Poudre River Whitewater Park off of North College and Vine Drive Oct. 12. (Alyssa Uhl | The Collegian)

Troxell said the Poudre River has been a working river for a long time, so a lot of diversions, irrigation ditches and canals have already been built into the river. He said this particular part of the river already had a lot of man-made additions to it, which makes the river uninhabitable and inaccessible.

The goal of the Poudre River master plan is to reclaim the river for natural habitat and create accessibility for the people of Fort Collins, and the completion of the Whitewater Park marks the beginning of that process.

“When I was growing up here, the river was the back door,” Troxell said. “It had the riff-raff, it had the old cars and now, today, it’s our front door.”

Gutowsky said the Heritage Trail Program plans to add signs throughout the river corridors, along with viewing areas that will allow visitors to understand the messages of history and the environment of the Poudre River.

“Here we are today celebrating the Poudre River, and it is the jewel of our City,” Gutowsky said. “Over the decades, our river has seen great drama and interesting characters. It has many interesting stories to share. Not only will our Whitewater Park be a recreational phenomenon, but it will also serve as a heritage gateway: a physical and informational gateway created through a funding partnership.”

Graham said there was a massive amount of people who contributed to the project, and nothing could have been accomplished without the support of Fort Collins citizens who voted for and donated to the park.

“We should point to the success of this park as a great example of how investing in our community works, and we should continue to invest wisely,” Graham said. “People will be attracted to come to Fort Collins to see the Whitewater Park and the River District. New businesses will be formed, and the help of our community to even higher levels of economic strength are going to occur. The park is going to be a great asset to our City.”

Atteberry said the park is only the beginning, and new ideas and projects are already in motion for the Poudre River. He also said the main goals of the Whitewater Park were recreation for citizens of Fort Collins, river safety and the juxtaposition between the man-made and the natural environment.

Fort Collins community members kayak and sit on the shore of the Poudre River during the grand opening of the Poudre River Whitewater Park off of North College and Vine Drive Oct. 12. (Alyssa Uhl | The Collegian)

“Recreation matters to this town, not only because it’s fun, but because we want to be a healthy community, and this is forwarding that strategic objective,” Atteberry said. “Safety matters. There are going to be fewer properties that are flooding because of this project. It’s not just a pretty face. It has a deep function to it, and that is it helps take properties out of the floodplain.”

Kurt Friesen, director of the Park Planning and Development department for the City of Fort Collins, said the construction of the park wasn’t easy, and seeing it open was so rewarding because he knew the process it went through.

Friesen said the project underwent a number of obstacles, including the limited timeframe given to get the work done in the river. He said a series of very old manholes were found in the river that were used to direct flows into the old power plant.

Friesen said that, normally, this wouldn’t be a big deal, but since the team was racing against the clock to get the work done before the snowmelt in April, it was a problem.

However, the contractors and their team were able to get the manholes removed quickly, and the project was able to continue.

“I just want to say thank you to those that committed themselves,” Friesen said. “I believe this will be Fort Collins’ next great place largely because of that commitment.”

Ceci Taylor can be reached at news@collegian.com.

Today’s “Heated” newsletter from Emily Atkin is about reporting on indigenous people #IndigenousPeoplesDay @emorwee

Click here to read the newsletter. Here’s an excerpt:

What does this have to do with climate?

Indian Country is on the front lines of the climate crisis currently unfolding in the United States, and has been for some time. Thus, if America’s most influential news institutions are not adequately informing their readers about what’s happening in Indian Country, they’re not adequately informing Americans about the climate crisis.

Beyond that, there are so many opportunities for solutions-focused stories in Native American communities, Martin noted.

”The United Nations recently put out a report reiterating that indigenous people—their understanding of land management, of protecting and nurturing the resources that everybody needs to survive—are crucial to the process of moving forward,” he said. “If we want this planet to survive, we have to lean on the people who know the land best. The people who have fostered the land for thousands of years.”

“That’s not to say anyone else can’t be part of the solution,” [Nick Martin] continued. “It’s just to say we’ve not centered ourselves around indigenous perspectives of how land and natural resources should be used and taken care of. And I think as an American culture, it’s going to be important for us to adapt to more of that way of thinking.”

[…]

HOT ACTION: Follow some journalists!

Right before we got off the phone, I asked Martin if he could quickly suggest some journalists and/or media institutions to follow for quality coverage of indigenous climate issues. He recommended:

High Country News’s indigenous affairs section
Indianz.com’s politics section
Indian Country Today
HCN’s @grahambrewer
Data For Progress’s @jnoisecat

Got more suggestions? Send ‘em here: action@heated.world

The latest “The Current” newsletter is hot off the presses from the Colorado Water Center

Click here to read the newsletter. Here’s an excerpt:

A Happy Hour for Water: Event for The Water Resources Archive

Competition for urban, agricultural, and ecological water needs create challenges for policy and research. The Colorado State University Water Resources Archive is the go-to source for water references. Learn about the extensive collections from individuals and organizations to jump knowledge gaps and enhance your water work at this week’s event. Enjoy wine and cheese on Thursday, October 17 from 3-5 p.m., in the Morgan Library Event Hall while you mingle with water-related faculty, staff, students, organizations, and centers.

The Water Resources Archive is a collaboration with the Morgan Library Archives & Special Collections and the Colorado Water Center. The Rocky Mountains of Colorado hold the headwaters of four major rivers: the Colorado, Rio Grande, Arkansas, and Platte. Colorado is responsible for sustainably managing our water resources to ensure our arid neighbor states receive their fair share of flowing rivers. Academic research at CSU and across the state and region contribute to reaching our water goals. Discover the resources missing from your research.

The latest “E-Newsletter” is hot off the presses from the Hutchins Water Center

Click here to read the newsletter. Here’s an excerpt:

RIVER DISTRICT SEMINAR TALKS
The Colorado River District’s annual seminar drew a big crowd and featured speakers with provocative ideas, like a “grand bargain” to cap upper basin uses in exchange for lifting the threat of a compact call by the lower basin. You can access video of the talks and the slides presented here.

Click here to view the Twitter storm from the seminar.

Lincoln Park Superfund annual meeting set for Thursday — The Cañon City Daily Record

Lincoln Park/Cotter Mill superfund site via the Environmental Protection Agency

From The Cañon City Daily Record:

The EPA Annual Meeting reporting on activities at the Superfund site will be from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday at the Abbots Room, Abbey Conference Center. Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and Environmental Protection Agency officials will be present as well as representatives of Colorado Legacy Land to answer questions and take comments from Fremont County residents. The Lincoln Park neighborhood and the site of the former Cotter uranium mill south of Cañon City were declared a Superfund site in 1984 due to the widespread groundwater and soils contamination from the operation of the mill.

The September meeting of the Community Advisory Group for the Lincoln Park Cotter Superfund site was held Sept. 19 at the Garden Park Room.

Updates on early cleanup actions included the TCE (trichloroethylene) plume near the Shadow Hills Golf Club. The Work Plan was approved in July 2019 by the agencies. Testing of all the soil borings is complete and installation of monitoring wells began Sept. 26.

The Soil Excavation Evaporation Pond Construction Plan is out for comment. This plan is proposed to speed the dewatering of the radioactive tailings located at the former Cotter mill site. The CDPHE and EPA, as well as the community, have an opportunity to review the plan. The deadline for comments is 5 p.m. Oct. 15 to Dustin McNeil at dustin.mcneil@state.co.us. A link to the work plan and other documents is available at: https://sites.google.com/state.co.us/cotter-uranium-mill/documents-available-for-public-review-and-comment.

Emily Tracy, chairperson of the Community Advisory Group, states “Now that early actions toward the cleanup of the Lincoln Park Site are moving forward under the ownership of Colorado Legacy Land, the community will be able to have critical input in the process. At the meeting, you will be able to ask why these actions are being taken and how the physical action of removal, moving soils, pumping water from the primary impoundment will move the cleanup toward the Remedial Investigation of the site. That is the next step in the EPA CERCLA process which may be proposed as early as next year.”

Tracy continued: “It should be remembered that 5-6 million tons of toxic materials sit in the 157-acre impoundment ponds. According to past estimates, 1.5 million gallons of contaminated water and 1.5 million tons of contaminated soils sit waiting for cleanup, and still threaten our community if anything goes wrong.”

“If a Lincoln Park resident has a well, they are advised not to use it because of contamination from the uranium mill. Wouldn’t it be great to have the use of that water?” asks CAG member Sharyn Cunningham, who had to stop using her wells many years ago. “If there is any hope for cleaning up our Lincoln Park wells, we all need to make sure it is done and done right!”