How green is your kayak park?
AVON – A whitewater park covering a 500-foot stretch of the Eagle River has taken shape under Avon’s Bob the Bridge. Concrete rocks in low-flow areas of the river create waves, rapids and currents, conditions prime for kayaking and other water sports, said Avon Town Engineer Norm Wood.”These are naturally occurring conditions,” Wood said. “We’re just creating them for a specific function.”Although grout – which is sometimes used to secure artificial rocks to the riverbed – was not be used in the new water park, Bill Andree of the Colorado Division of Wildlife said even concrete is cause for concern.”Concrete is not a natural substance, so it can shape the components of the river for better or for worse,” he said. “Anytime you put a large block of anything in the river, whether it’s concrete or natural rock, it reduces spaces for bugs and fish to hide in.”Ray Merry, the environmental health director for Eagle County, said drilling small holes through natural rocks to anchor them to the riverbed would have been better.When the town of Vail built its whitewater park in 2000, it used ungrouted natural boulders, said Todd Oppenheimer, with Vail’s public works department. Oppenheimer said the park did not have a significant effect on the environment. If anything, it created a deep pool for more fish to live in, he said.”We always see a lot of trout hanging out in it when you look down from the International Bridge,” he said. “The trout might come up to feed in the ripples … but they really like to stay and rest in the deeper, shadier pools.”Vail was careful not to harm the environment during construction, Oppenheimer said. Damaged plants were replanted or grew back naturally.During the construction of Avon’s park, sediment fences would put up to maintain water quality, and now that the park is finished, critical wildlife habitats also have been fenced off, Wood said. “We’re making every effort to not just maintain, but also improve the quality of the wetlands,” he said.Andree said he is concerned about the increased spectator traffic. Wildlife will also notice trampling in their habitats, he said.”Critters won’t be there in the same numbers. Some of the wildlife will just leave,” he said. “A reduction of wildlife will come with the increase of people.” Vail Daily, Vail, Colorado