River Access Evaluation: Get Into The Flow
Have you ever been to the river, seen people paddling, or crossed it during the day? Ever wonder where people can access the river? I ask these questions to myself and wonder how people interact with the water that flows through this Grand Valley. The two rivers that form the Grand Junction and the landscape we enjoy everyday are a vital part of this community. There are many ways to interact with the river. some people drive over it, and others bike and walk along it, some watch and enjoy the sound of the river. There is one other group of people that want to paddle down the river and be on the water. Thats why the GVPC was created, for the paddlers and the people that wanted to be in the water. Getting in to the water is what I want to talk to you about. The GVPC will be evaluating the river access points throughout the Grand Valley and providing that information to you through this blog. Read on to learn about the criteria by which we will be evaluating the river access points by.
Signage: Are people aware that river access is available, through signage on roadways or walkways?
Vehicle access: Is it paved or 4X4?
Parking: Available parking for vehicles or trailers?
Trailer Turn Around: Is there space to turn a trailer around?
Flow: Can you freely move through the area in in an organized manner when going through the process of loading a boat, parking a car, or just visiting?
Life Jackets: Is there signage for endorsing the use of PFD or life jackets, or in some cases life jackets available?
Angle: What is the steepness of a ramp if present or the contact between the water and the land?
Capacity: How many water craft could be present at one time?
Eddies: How many how accessible and how big?
Highway Signage: Is there signage along major roadways making you aware of the presence of river access?
Bathroom: Some access points have facilities available.
Pay: Some access points require you to pay an entry fee to use them.
Stewardship: How well are these public river access points taken care of and valued?
These are the criteria currently in place. Lets go through an example. Let's take a place where there may be no river access and show you what the process would would look like theoretically.
Lets use this for example. This is the pedestrian bridge that connects Las Colonias to Eagle Rim Park.
I have seen people access the river here. I once saw a group of high schoolers get in right to the left of the bridge where you see the dirt patch. So if someone is accessing the river here lets put it through the evaluation.
Signage: There is no signage because I do not think that it is encourage to get into the river there.
Vehicle access: Nope, just by bike or foot.
Parking: No but it looks like it has the capacity for a few.
Trailer Turn Around: No.
Flow: The lack of signage and no established trail people make their way down however they can and by means of whatever is convenient for themselves.
Life Jackets: No signage, none available
Angle: The contact with the water and land is steep and rocky.
Capacity: One boat could get there from the river but not put at that location.
Eddies: No eddies .
Highway Signage: No highway signage not even for Eagle Rim Park along Highway 50.
Bathroom: No facilities available, closest facility would be Eagle Rim Park or by the botanical gardens.
Pay: Free Access
Stewardship: There are at times some empty containers along the riverside here.
So that is the objective evaluation for this river access point. at the pedestrian bridge that connects Eagle Rim Park to Las Colonias. Could it be improved? I think so. But where should we begin?
The last criteria hits home with me. Stewardship. A lot of my life has revolved around the river. I have been part of communities that were built solely because of the river they utilized and interacted with the waterways in all manners. Some had big raft operations, others had spectacular views and vistas, some held traditions at bridges or single access point, all were part of the community and the river was part of their lives. The river is important to me. The stewardship of the river is vital for the longevity of these communities to continue to thrive and operate along their waterways and riverbanks. I myself have studied and practiced stewardship in order to help educate others about stewardship. As a Leave No Trace Master Educator, we learned about how to leave a minimal impact on the environment that we were interacting with. We did this so that we could continue to interact with it again in the future and others could as well too. This ethic that we had was one of stewardship for the land that we lived in that has provided opportunities for us to build homes and highways, have vantage points, views, vistas, agriculture, water, and the river. The things that make where you live spectacular are provided by the land and the community. To ensure that we can enjoy them- we must take care of them.
Stewardship is why the Grand Valley Paddling Club puts on the Colorado River Cleanup each year and encourages people to get involved with other stewardship opportunities like the Colorado Canyons Association Ruby Horse Thief Stewardship Trips. If we did not have access to these lands and waterways we could not be stewards to them. Stewardship is as important as public access. That is why we are evaluating the river access points throughout the Grand Valley.
We start with stewardship for the river and work to provide public access for the community. We want to help this community interact with and have a healthy relationship with the rivers that run through it. The GVPC is working to raise funds to improve current river access and provide funds for future public access points. We believe that by having this healthy relationship with the water and being stewards of the river as a community we can have a better quality of life where we live. We want you to help. Pick up trash you see along the waterways and encourage others to do the same. And believe in the river enough to invest through donations to the GVPC. You are not just donating to the GVPC, you are investing into the community that you live in. I don't like to ask for money myself, but I will ask for your money so that it can be invested into developing a healthy relationship between the community and the rivers and waters we enjoy. I encourage you to please donate to the community and the rivers that run through it.
The following blog posts will go through a number of river access points throughout the valley that the GVPC would like to work to improve and make the interaction with the community and the water a better one. The same evaluation process will be applied to all. If you have comments or feedback on the evaluation or if you want something added please let us know. Our email is GVPaddle@gmail.com.