Animas River Management Plan Discussion Notes

Below is a copy of the outline of discussion points from a meeting of river users at 4Corners Riversports last week regarding the Animas River Management Plan. We feel that these points accurately convey the river community’s stance on the key aspects that will be covered at the following meetings on Feb. 15th and 16th at the Durango Rec Center (2-8pm on 15th, 2-530pm on 16th). Feel free to print off this email and bring it with you as a guideline to discussion points during the meetings. For those of you who could not attend the meeting last week or who have not heard about the format of this weeks meetings, the discussion will be broken up into 6 different categories (which correlate to the numbered points below). Attendees are encouraged to RSVP to which category discussion they would like to participate in. Each discussion group will come to a final consensus regarding their topic. If no consensus can be reach, the majority vote will rule. This is why it will be extremely important to have as many river users as possible at each discussion group. To RSVP to the meetings, please contact Joanne Gantt (375-7320 or rec@ci.durango.co.us) Even if you cannot make the entire meeting, please attend when you can. If you simply cannot make either meeting, please contact Cathy Metz (metzcl@ci.durango.co.us or 375-7329) to voice your opinion. If you have any questions or would like to know which discussion group could use your support the most, please contact Tony or Andy at 259-3893 For more general info on the meetings, see our previous post here: https://www.riversports.com/wp/animas-river-management-plan-final-meetings/ Animas River Management Plan Discussion Notes: 1. Secure upstream access
  • Cameron/Sterk and possibly more upstream between Bakers and town.
  • There is currently no legal public access between 33rd St and Silverton to our public waterway. Anyone has the legal right to float this section but there is no legal access.
  • Upstream flatwater access will provide a safe and enjoyable place to learn / train, give family’s greater access to a mellower stretch, and provide opportunities for river and wetlands education to students and the public. The river is a natural nature trail.
  • Will alleviate trespassing issues by giving river users an additional access points to launch / take out. Signage and education are key here as well. Colorado Recreational Use Statute (more on this in Law Enforcement/ Regs)
  • Will alleviate congestion at 33rd street and will provide a more functional put-in location
  • No limitation on type of users. Make it accessible to all. (seasonal trail closures a possibility)
  • No fees for non-commercial use. Fees will simply encourage people to trespass.
  • Opponents say, “ City can’t manage what they already have”
  • – City hasn’t really attempted to manage 33rd properly
  • – Other City parks are well kept and clean. 33rd would be no different if designed and managed properly.
  • – We have 5 takeouts with no takeout issues to speak of. Only one put-in with plenty of issues. An additional put-in would solve most issues. Put-ins downstream would be under utilized even if developed. People want to put in at the top of the run. Extending the existing run further with another put in will draw most people.
2. Recreational Amenities (In-stream and Bank) – Implementation of the Animas River Master Plan in its entirety:
  • Enhance in river features at Smelter and provide more features in different locations
  • Low water features and channelization
  • Spectator seating and access at the WW park
  • Secure RICD water rights
  • Will bring economic benefit by increasing features and enjoyment. Put Durango back on the map as a whitewater destination. Low water features will extend the season for both ww enthusiasts as well as float fishermen, tubers, and beginners. Will allow for more low water children’s programs.
— Proper development of 33rd st. Put-In
  • More logical design for better traffic flow, proper boat ramps, separate commercial and private ramps?
  • Park-like, environmentally conscious design.
  • Proper bathroom and changing facilities. Trash & Recycling receptacles
  • Amenities like coin operated electric pump, staging/rigging areas, bike racks, etc.
  • Advocate for a separate 33rd St design meeting. Too complex for one day.
3. Conservation & Habitat
  • GOCO acquired land will be classified as a conservation easement. Riparian areas would be improved and protected. Only a small portion of Cameron-Sterk will be developed as a put-in, the rest would be improved habitat.
  • Currently none of the Cameron-Sterk property is in a conservation easement.
  • Any put-in or on river developments should be designed in an environmentally sound manner.
  • WW park and in stream features can be designed to benefit fish habitat
  • Development of up-stream put-in would minimize the necessary development size of 33rd street put-in because it would draw more people upstream where there is more space.
  • More access and traffic in the upper stretch will highlight bank erosion issues, scrap metal in the river, etc. and promote their mitigation.
  • Opponents say, “More traffic will disturb wild life”
  • Area from Cameron/Sterk down is moderately developed
  • More habitat and nesting areas could be improved on the property
  • Possible soft path closures in the winter. Develop quiet zones.
4. Law Enforcement & Regulations
  • Most issues can be solved by enforcing existing laws. No need for additional laws or regs, just increase enforcement of what’s on the books.
  • Education is also key. Inform people of where they’re trespassing, that alcohol is illegal on the river, littering (increase fine for littering in the river corridor?), etc.
  • Nudity & public urination would be solved by adequate bathrooms / changing areas.
  • Additional upstream access would disperse the congestion and confrontations, and get crowds away from 33rd st neighborhood into a more open area. It would also give an access point for law enforcement to patrol the upper stretch.
  • Trespassing would be reduced because the additional access point will provide legal access where there currently is none.
  • Colorado Recreational Use Statute is designed to encourage owners of land within rural areas to make land and water areas available for recreational purposes by limiting their liability towards persons entering thereon for such purposes.
  • Self policing by the river community works well. More access puts positive river users in the locations that troublesome users may be (beaches, etc.). River community does a good job of cleaning up.
5. Water Quality
  • The majority of issues are above town (Silverton, Missionary Ridge Fire) or unrelated (fecal & pharma contamination). Impact from river use and additional put-in development will be extremely minimal.
  • Proper design of put-ins will minimize runoff issues. Gravel parking lots, proper boat ramps, etc.
  • Extensive water quality studies will be done in next 3 years as government mandate.
  • Bank stabilization efforts above 33rd street will decrease sediment
  • More whitewater features will create more aeration and fish habitat
  • Permanent feature installation will reduce the amount of longterm in stream work and reduce sediment issues.
6. Education & Community Outreach
  • Upstream put in(s) will increase safe education opportunities for students, children, families and the public by providing a non-whitewater stretch. River corridor, riparian areas, flora, fauna, conservation, protection and more could all be studied. Begin thinking of the river as a “water nature trail”.
  • Low water whitewater features and channelization will allow for more youth sports programs such as freestyle kayaking, slalom boating, river running, float fishing, etc.
  • Proper signage to educate users as to proper river etiquette, access locations, private property, whitewater feature locations, etc.
  • Education and Community Outreach will be key in every aspect of the Management Plan, especially proper access, legal issues and law enforcement, and conservation.

*Durango River Access Overview

There is a numerical imbalance between the 5 take-outs and the 2 put-ins. This is a major factor in the fuss over river use. Existing take-outs:
  1. 9th Street
  2. Santa Rita
  3. Four Corners
  4. High Bridge
  5. Dallabetta
Existing Put-ins:
  1. 33rd Street
  2. 29th Street
Future Put-Ins will help to balance it out:
  1. Cameron-Sterk
  2. Upstream, possibly Romad property
  3. Upstream site, further upriver
Proposed River Access Improvements:The idea is to develop a plan for these three access points that helps to alleviate some of the pressure off 33rd Street. This would primarily be accomplished by providing superior parking facilities at the other access points. Also by reducing the parking at 33rd Street and requiring users to park elsewhere. This will also allow for the site to be developed more as a park instead of a parking lot. 29th Street:
  • Additional or improved boat ramps
  • Bus turnaround
  • Pull-through trailer parking
  • Lowest priority put-in
33rd Street:
  • Functional park like design
  • Bus turnaround
  • Unloading only area
  • Picnic shelter
  • Year-round restrooms
  • Sidewalk and street trees
Cameron-Sterk
  • Multiple boat ramps
  • Bus turnaround
  • Year-round restrooms
  • Functional parking
  • Pull-through trailer parking
  • Picnic Shelters
  • Trolley Service
  • Highest priority
* Added 2/14.