Whitewater enthusiasts hoping for park of their own
Post Independent Staff
Hundreds of river enthusiasts will be flowing into Glenwood Springs in early October for a first-ever international whitewater park conference, even as local supporters push for creation of such a facility in town.
The Whitewater Courses and Parks 2005 conference will be held Oct. 5-7 at the Ramada Inn. It will be immediately followed by the Whitewater Symposium 2005, scheduled for Oct. 7-10 at the Rock Gardens resort on the Colorado River in No Name, just east of Glenwood Springs.
“We’re really encouraging city officials to attend the conference,” said Lori Hogan, who is a member of a committee that has been working with Glenwood Springs to try to open a whitewater park in the city.
Hogan is the former tourism marketing director for the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association and soon will be moving to Jackson Hole, Wyo., to serve as director of communications for the chamber there. She attended last year’s symposium, and when organizers were looking for a place to host it this year, she suggested Glenwood Springs.
The whitewater park convention is an outgrowth of the annual symposium, Hogan said. She said the symposium held a session on the subject of whitewater parks last year.
“Because so many people all over the United States attended it, they decided to do a separate conference altogether,” she said.
As the parks are becoming increasingly popular, communities are wanting to know how to create parks and to learn from the experiences of other communities that have them, she said.
Local whitewater park supporters hope the conference will further motivate the city to help open a facility. Hogan said she doesn’t want Glenwood Springs to get left behind while other cities take advantage of the growing interest in the parks.
“This is the future of whitewater kayaking,” she said.
Because the Colorado River gets good year-round flows below the Shoshone Dam in Glenwood Canyon, the city also can gain more from having a park than communities whose whitewater parks get only enough water to operate seasonally, Hogan believes.
“They’re not getting the economic benefits that we would if we had a whitewater park that was potentially runnable 12 months a year,” she said.
With the backing of the Glenwood Springs City Council, local whitewater park enthusiasts are pursuing a possible site in West Glenwood. They initially had wanted to build a park near the confluence of the Colorado and Roaring Fork rivers. However, Hot Springs Pool officials raised fears that construction of whitewater features on the river and riverbed scouring from the waves of those features could damage the underlying hot springs aquifer that supplies the pool.
Hogan said local park supporters are hoping for stepped-up support from city officials, including help in writing grants and obtaining permits.
“We just need to basically have them put their money and time where their mouths are. … There’s a lot that still has to happen in order for a whitewater park to go (forward),” she said.
Hogan said as many as 100 people are expected to attend the conference, and a similar number probably will participate in the symposium. The conference is expected to draw participants from the United States and Canada. Organizers are encouraging participation by federal, state and local management agencies; professionals such as hydrologists, engineers and developers; and paddlers and conservation and recreation groups.
Conference topics include design considerations, funding options, economic impacts of courses, risk management, and the stakeholder development process. State Rep. Kathleen Curry, D-Gunnison, has been scheduled as a keynote speaker. She formerly managed a water district and has supported recreational water rights for uses such as whitewater parks.
Hogan said the symposium will include top paddlers and instructors, and representatives from paddle clubs and schools, along with others.
“It’s basically a meeting of the minds of where this industry is going and how they can sustain it,” she said.
She said the industry is looking at how snowboarding went mainstream over the last 10 or 15 years, and how it can do the same. It is addressing safety issues surrounding the sport, “and not getting people so frustrated that they never get into a boat again,” she said.
The symposium will include on-the-water clinics on a variety of subjects, many of them aimed at teaching new skills to instructors.
The symposium also will address issues such as river access and marketing of the sport.
October was a good time for the events to be held in town because the weather usually is still nice enough to allow on-water clinics, pro boaters are done with the season’s competitions, and the city’s lodging occupancy isn’t as high, Hogan said. She said organizers also were looking for a good place for participants to bring their families.
Contact Dennis Webb: 945-8515, ext. 516
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