Whitewater Park FAQs
From AWA article by John Gangemi and Andy Craig
American Whitewater Association
What is a whitewater park?
“Whitewater Parks” are venues that have been partially or wholly augmented to facilitate whitewater recreation. Whitewater parks have been constructed at a wide range of sites including natural, modified, and artificial stream channels. Ideally, stream enhancements for whitewater recreation purposes will be located on degraded streams previously altered by humans. Previous human alterations or disturbances include but are not limited to dam construction, flood control chutes, rip-rapped shorelines, channelization, urbanization and surface mining activities.
Why a whitewater park?
To create enthusiasm by attracting locals and visitors to the park.
To create a venue for paddling competitions.
To enhance the fish habitat in the river.
To restore riparian vegetation along the banks of the river.
To create a family-friendly and easily accessible creek/river-side park.
To improve the aesthetics of the site.
To provide local economic stimulation.
How does the park fit into Greenbelt development?
The park will add a diversity of recreational opportunities at the site incorporated into the existing Greenbelt as well as provide spectator access and interaction among various recreation groups. It is very important to maintain riparian vegetation in the overall park plan. Riparian forests play a vital role in filtering and absorbing pollutants in the air, stabilizing the river bank, providing a shade canopy for fish and aquatic life, and providing habitat for birds. It is important to balance trails and river access with resource protection.
How will the park affect fish habitat?
Whitewater parks should be designed in a fashion that restores riverine habitat for native aquatic species and ecological processes as well as providing a venue for boating recreation. Features such as pools, riffles and runs, which are advantageous to boaters and fishermen alike, will be part of the overall design. Habitat diversity in the river channel leads to increased aquatic biodiversity.
What is the economic impact of a river park?
Whitewater parks have the ability to stimulate local economies. There are many success stories tied to existing parks. For example, Clear Creek Whitewater Park in Golden, CO was built for $165,000 and now grosses between $1.4 and $2.1 million dollars annually for the city. The Truckee River Park brings in over $4 million annually into the city.
How does the park enhancement recreational opportunity?
Building a water park in an urban area enhances recreational opportunities. It will provide a venue that will attract boaters from all over the area, perhaps even the whole country.
Who will be using and enjoying the park?
All enhancements made to the river will be for the public’s enjoyment. The improvements should be designed to accommodate the entire spectrum of boating enthusiasts. Boating events such as slalom races and “rodeos” could also take place in the park. Youth programs could be held in the park to provide outdoor challenges and promote self-esteem for kids from the surrounding area.
The stream enhancements will attract fish to the area which will in-turn attract fishermen. Fishermen will be able to frequent the area both during the boating season and during the off-season.
Hikers, Bikers and Others
Hikers, bikers, walkers and spectators will also be able to enjoy the park provided the creation of a greenway. Increased access will allow for greater educational opportunities along the river as well.
What are the access considerations?
The park design must also give due consideration to access including parking facilities and footpaths to the water. Whitewater parks adjacent to Federal and state lands will undergo environmental analysis from the respective agency with oversight. This agency analysis will include access evaluation and requirements. Whitewater parks adjacent to private lands raise liability concerns. Most states have recreational use statutes that protect private landowners.
How do you fund the design and construction of your whitewater park concept?
Most existing whitewater parks were funded through county or city departments. Funding is sometimes incorporated into the city or county tax structure, but not planned for the planning and construction of our park. Other funding options are concessionaire fees, donations, capital funds, bonds, short-term borrowing, government grants and private foundation grants.
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