Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Bring on the whitewater park

    Disney-lite at the whitewater park? Bring it on! We could have a Matterhorn with a water slide and a climbing wall and a monorail connecting all the parking lots and marble-and-granite-adorned concrete outhouses with the cities of Ketchum, Sun Valley, Hailey and Bellevue. All of this does sound like silliness but it was not concocted by any mayor or City Council.
    For many years, kayakers and other river surfers have been trying to get some sort of wave or whitewater park built. My wife and I donated $200 each several years ago to try to get a park in Hailey. There is currently an effort to get a wave in Bellevue. Many people have worked very hard to present these projects to city councils. I do thank the mayor and council of Ketchum for supporting this effort.
    Fortunately, this valley has many amenities. This is why we love to live here. When I moved here, I recall some opposition to the Wood River Trail. Not now! Residents approved a bond to repave the whole thing. Locals have donated thousands (millions?) of dollars or bought Nordic passes to make the valley a world-class destination and training center for Nordic skiing. If something needs to get done, such as trail building or maintenance, volunteers show up in force. This is why we live here.
    These activities do have an impact on the environment. Any time a trail, road or ski mountain is built there are impacts. When the original drop structures and pond were built in this area of the river there were environmental impacts. Improving the pond will have impacts. All along the river there are in-stream structures to protect property. If a whitewater park is built, it will have in-stream impacts, but fish and wildlife are very resilient. In areas where drop structures and rip-rap were installed in the river, I even see fishermen and wildlife. They will be welcome in the whitewater park. Parking and toilets are part of the plan. All will be welcome. I know a lot of kayakers and a few are serious, some are Olympians, but all enjoy a good surf wave or two. I hope to be surfing with them in my cataraft!
Dennis Botkin

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