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Today is Colorado Public Lands Day!

Posted: 05/16/2020
by Hattie Johnson and Patrick Tooley

As paddlers, we appreciate the mental and physical health benefits of outdoor recreation. A beautiful day on the river with friends is often what makes us feel like ourselves again. Access and use of our public lands right now seems more precious than ever. Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been difficult to watch river gages around that state rise and be unable to travel and visit these places we love due to state and local closures. We have a few opportunities to celebrate today and protect the health of your family and those around you.


If you are getting out on your local public lands - and hopefully you are! - check out this new app from our friends at Colorado Mountain Club. Track your outdoor recreation and help us understand how our public lands are being used especially in these trying times. This data will help land managers understand visitation to parks, trailheads, river access and more as the state starts to ease quarantine regulations.


You can also join the good folks with the Dolores River Boating Advocates (DRBA) and The Wilderness Society (TWS) this evening for a free screening of the River of Sorrow. I wonderful film describing the history and diverse relationships around water on the Dolores River. Stick around after for some Q&A with the Amber Clark of DRBA, Jeff Widen of TWS, and Cody Perry, the filmmaker. Low snowpack this year is not going to provide boatable flows season on the Dolores. Take this opportunity to get your Dolores fix!


Lastly, we wanted to give you an update on the Clear Creek closure in Jefferson County. Shortly after the Closure Order went into effect, Colorado Whitewater and American Whitewater-who have a long history of working in close partnership on conservation and access issues-contacted Jefferson County and the Golden Police Department. Our purpose in doing so was not to categorically oppose the Closure Order. Even though we are unaware of any other law enforcement agency entering a similar order specifically to restrict river access, CW and AW recognize the significant health risks COVID-19 poses to the community at large. But both organizations also believe that any such orders should be lawful, narrowly tailored, and of the shortest possible duration.


CW and AW continue to be in regular contact with Jefferson County and Golden officials, and we have proposed modifications to the Closure Order for officials to consider. CW and AW recognize a broad diversity of opinion exists about the Closure Order, but we encourage all members to conduct themselves in a way that reinforces our message to law enforcement: the paddling community looks out for the safety of one another both on and off the river. We will continue to work directly with Jefferson County and Golden officials because we believe they recognize the negative impact the Closure Order has on kayakers and are engaging with us in good faith. We are hopeful the Closure Order will not be extended and will expire by its terms on May 26 (or at least be modified to exclude whitewater kayaks and canoes). Should that not occur, we will revisit our approach. AW has put together a great set of recommendations for boating in this COVID-19 time. We hope all of you stay safe both on and off the river and can get out this weekend to enjoy those Colorado Public lands near your home!

American Whitewater
Hattie Johnson
Phone: 970-456-8533