Opinions sought on streamside amenities at Basalt whitewater park | AspenTimes.com

Opinions sought on streamside amenities at Basalt whitewater park

Staff report

Pitkin County wants to develop a kayak park on this stretch of the Roaring Fork River along Two Rivers Road in Basalt. The stretch is downstream from Fishermen's Park and upstream of the confluence with Fryingpan River.

Pitkin County and Basalt will kick off a series of public meetings Monday to see what type of streamside improvements people want alongside a proposed whitewater wave park in the Roaring Fork River in Basalt.

The Basalt Town Council approved Pitkin County's plan for the whitewater park in September with the condition that meetings be held to solicit public opinion on streamside amenities. The council also wanted to give the fishing industry a chance to learn more about the plan and comment.

The open house meeting will start Monday at 5:30 p.m. at the Basalt Regional Library. A brief overview will be presented at 6 p.m.

The whitewater wave feature will be constructed about halfway between Fisherman's Park and the 7 Eleven Bridge in Basalt in fall 2016. Features will be placed in a 450-foot stretch of the river "for the purpose of creating a kayaking, tubing, rafting and fishing recreation area," according to the county's permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The site is upstream from the confluence with the Fryingpan River. County officials identified that stretch as most suitable for a whitewater park because of the flow rate there.

The stream bank adjacent to the river in that stretch is narrow and steep. County and town officials want to collect public comment on amenities that would enhance the experience along the play wave. Ideas include an overlook and seating area, additional parking along Two Rivers Road, direct access to the play area from the street, a pedestrian trail and an interpretative-educational zone.

Pitkin County pursued a special water right called a recreational in-channel diversion so it could make a call for water and maintain seasonal stream flows.

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"The kayak play wave is an incidental amenity of what the Healthy Rivers Board was really trying to accomplish, and that was securing an important water right for this critically de-watered zone of the Roaring Fork River," said Andre Wille, chairman of the Healthy Rivers board of directors. "The man-made wave will not only be fun for kayakers, but it will help maintain healthy river ecology throughout the upper Roaring Fork."

The Colorado Water Conservation Board and Colorado water court have already ratified the special water right.

The Healthy Rivers website said the county will construct two play-wave features with adjacent eddies. "It will be a fun and convenient mid-valley surf spot and a place for teaching/learning whitewater skills," the website said.

More information on the county project can be found at http://www.pitkincountyrivers.com/healthy-rivers-project—basalt-co.html.

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