Beathard: This river is your river, this river is my river
There’s an ongoing story in the Aspen papers that has particularly intrigued me.
Both papers, but especially The Aspen Times, have had a close eye on the impacts of recreation in the North Star Nature Preserve, particularly as the county takes a stab at updating its management plan for the parcel. Apparently, this has boomed in the past five years, maybe more so than ever this summer — or maybe we’re just now paying attention.
I moved here about four years ago, and I have played on the Roaring Fork River more this summer than any of the rest. So maybe I’m part of this growth.
The problem users are said to be of a particular demographic — my demographic. So I’m here to set the record straight about who we are, because a few idiots are making us all look bad.
Like I said, I’ve been on the river several times this summer, sometimes with alcohol, sometimes not. It depends on what craft I’m using and how well I can secure it, because whether it’s a can of beer or a bottle of water, littering isn’t cool.
I went on two excursions this weekend, one a classic float trip through the preserve. We carpooled and parked one car at each end, both in real spaces, and put in at Wildwood with about six people, some on paddleboards and some in tubes. Our most obnoxious moment was probably the screams from a beginner paddleboarder in that first section of rapids at the put-in — but we’ve all been there. Otherwise, there was some laughing and talking and goofing off, and at one point, I dozed off and took a little nap in the sunshine. When someone on a paddleboard caught up to us with speakers blaring, the friend next to me and I groaned. There’s still a few people my age who really do just like to be outside in nature.
People do this floating thing all across the country. But I would venture a guess that our version is unique in that it’s taking place in the midst of a nature preserve. Respecting wildlife habitat and fun can coexist, but it’s a tough line to walk. It’s possible just the sound of our voices was disturbing to wildlife, but if you can’t have a good laugh, well, then, what’s the point. I think the county is doing the right thing by looking at these issues and trying to keep a balance, but we also have to be realistic with our expectations.
By the way, my other activity this weekend was tubing the Roaring Fork below Stein Park with the Kiwi Adventure Co. If the idea of playing bumper cars in the water with nine of your closest friends sounds appealing to you, I highly recommend it. We never stopped smiling the whole way down.
Jill Beathard apologizes for her brief hiatus from writing this column. The dog ate the last few editions. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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