Guest opinion: Look to New Zealand for ‘soft’ S. Canyon footprint |

Guest opinion: Look to New Zealand for ‘soft’ S. Canyon footprint

I’ve lived up South Canyon for over 44 years. My family has cattle ranched in this canyon for 62 years.

I have driven up and down the South Canyon road over 32,000 times. In my opinion, only one other person knows more about “the canyon” than me.

I would like to share a few facts and ideas about this unique area.

First of all, trash.

My family has quietly and humbly cleaned trash up on the city property for over 60 years. Through the decades we have cleaned up everything from old cars to refrigerators, including the type of trash described in Beckley’s editorial. We have done this work without compensation and have never asked for any “recognition” for our deeds. It’s just what we do.

Trash has always been a part of this canyon. Many thoughtful citizens have joined the cause for South Canyon clean-ups and reforestation programs. As for my family, we will still carry on our annual Spring “canyon” clean-up routine. It’s just what we do.

Secondly, E. coli.

Steve stated that water samples of the hot springs contained unacceptable health levels of E. coli and other micro-organisms. This information is not new. In the 1970s, I know of two separate water samples sent to the Colorado Department of Health. At that time both samples came back with unacceptable high levels of E. coli.

Bathers have enjoyed this hot springs for over 50 years. I don’t believe their health risks for an evening soak is any greater than the thousands of people enjoying the recreational activities on our Colorado River.

Third, wildlife.

Wildlife biologists know, the “softer” the human footprint, the greater the wildlife sustainability.

The city property is an important wildlife area. Elk use this property for critical winter habitat and calving protection. Literally thousands of elk have been born on this property.

I have personally seen elk herds in excess of 100 animals within yards of the “hot springs.”

Fourth, wildfire mitigation.

South Canyon is considered a “high” fire danger area. This is due to to the unfortunate fact that it has a burning underground coal seam. This was the “ignition source” that burnt West Glenwood in 2002.

Dying cottonwoods, coupled with the pine beetles hitting our South Canyon pine forests, has only exacerbated our fire hazard.

In my opinion, South Canyon is at the highest fire level in my lifetime.

The solution to this threat is not easy.

So, here’s what I consider the best solution for South Canyon hot springs.

There’s a beautiful tourist town in New Zealand named Lake Taupo. Like Glenwood, it has a couple thriving commercial “hot springs” resorts.

On the outskirts of town, there is a free “day use” municipal park. It’s called “Spa Thermal Park.” Google it.

This “low key” park has green lawns, restrooms and a small playground. A nice pathway goes down to its “hot springs.”

Both tourists and locals soak there. It’s been ranked as one of the top five things to do in Lake Taupo. So I went. Incredible!

It was “free” to the public. Locals love it. Tourists love it.

Yes, I’m sure it has maintenance issues, and yes, I did see a policeman there who asked me if I was enjoying myself. But I could tell the city of Lake Taupo took pride in this park.

Maybe even Jim Olp would sign off on a project of this type. “Soft” footprint, open space, day use only, and no alcohol. Low impact is the way to go.

D.T. Richardson is a resident of South Canyon.

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