VAIL DAILY: Eagle completes nation’s newest, and ambitious, whitewater park
Eagle completes nation’s newest, and ambitious, whitewater park
January 9, 2019
EAGLE — The river part of Eagle’s ambitious river park is done, and even the fish appear to be happy about it.
Hobbs Excavating crews recently finished the fourth of four in-river features.
S2O Design, one of the world’s premier river engineering and whitewater design companies, designed the in-river features.
“This setting matches the river’s natural morphology and utilizes the existing river channel really well,” said Scott Shipley, the founder and president of S2O Design. “It will surely be a new focal point for the town.”
Shipley knows what he’s touting. He’s a three-time U.S. Olympian and five-time World Cup slalom kayak champion.
The park has been on Eagle’s wish list for years, town Trustee Matt Solomon said.
“This will truly connect the soul of the river to the heart of our valley,” Solomon said.
Local boaters are checking the park daily to see if the ice has melted enough to get into the river.
“This park is going to make a huge, positive impact on Eagle as well as all the other nearby river corridor communities,” Ken Hoeve, former pro kayaker and standup paddler said. “The park is going to put Eagle on the map as a great paddling destination.”
FAST WATER AND FISH
The in-river part of the project took two years to build, but the process started long before that with a feasibility study, then design and a detailed hydraulic modeling. The first two features were built last winter and spring when the water was low.
Crews were back in the water last fall, and finished the other two river features in late December. The features create waves, eddies, chutes, and drops to play in for anything from tubes to surfing, standup-up paddling and kayaking.
The park was the first built with S2O’s RapidBlocs that allows the features to be fine-tuned depending on water flows. That will lengthen the boating season in the park.
“We’ll be able to tweak them however we need to,” Shipley said.
S2O also designed the riverbank improvements, and included a bypass channel around the two upper features serving as a recreational safe route and a fish migration pathway, and mid-stream fish channels in the lower section so fish can migrate upstream.
After Colorado Parks and Wildlife expressed some concerns about fish migration, the two features built this winter were modified, with crews installing concrete half hemispheres to make it easier for the fish to move.
WORKING WITH THE FEDS
Because the whitewater park was built in a river, the town had to work through the federal approval process with the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers and other groups.
“The knowledge and experience from all of these groups has made it a smooth project considering the extent of the undertaking,” said Jeremy Gross, Eagle’s marketing manager.
S2O Design is completing whitewater parks on the Poudre River in Fort Collins, on the Arkansas River in Canon City, and on the Boise River in Boise, Idaho.
In 2016 Eagle voters approved a 0.5 percent sales tax to pay for the park and trail improvements. The entire park is scheduled for completion later this spring.