Commissioners want more data on Jaffee Park use
Pitkin County commissioners are interested in discussing the impacts of commercial rafting at Jaffee Park in Woody Creek.The park is a regular put-in and take-out area for rafters on the Roaring Fork River. In 2002 a commercial use permit system was put in place at the park to track the number of people rafting with commercial guides in the area, with the goal of developing a “carrying capacity” at the park for commercial users.The county’s open space and trails staff is to study the use of the park by commercial rafting outfitters, but they reported to the commissioners last week that because of low snowpack in 2004, last year’s rafting season was shortened considerably.According to a memo from Gary Tennenbaum, open space and trails land steward, the staff is reluctant to limit the number of permits given to commercial rafters at Jaffee Park because they haven’t seen any impacts to the park in the last three years, probably because of below-normal spring runoff levels.But Tennenbaum wrote that the staff cannot rely on runoffs to determine the park’s carrying capacity. He said 8,680 users are permitted to use the park in one rafting season, although only 1,573 users rafted with commercial guides in 2004 and 2,486 rafted with commercial guides at the park in 2003.Commissioners Michael Owsley and Jack Hatfield expressed concern at their Tuesday work session about the potential 8,000-plus users who are currently permitted to raft with commercial guides.”We would like the park to be used, but I have no handle on what a huge day there would mean to things like parking, trash, stream erosion and noise for the neighbors,” Hatfield said. The commissioners asked that the item be placed on the agenda for an upcoming work session.The open space and trails staff are hoping for a normal runoff this year so they can accurately measure the impacts of commercial users at the park this spring and summer. They plan on monitoring the time commercial operators take to load and unload a group, as well as how they are impacting other private users.They also plan on passing around a questionnaire to other users at the park to get public comments on their experience there.”I would like [use of the park] to be manageable so it’s compatible with humans and the physical environment,” Hatfield said.Naomi Havlen’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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