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Archive for Sunday, May 23, 2004

Kayakers planning whitewater park

May 23, 2004

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Members of the Kansas Whitewater Assn. look at the Kansas River beneath the Bowersock Dam and see a lot of fun in their future.

The group, which formed in January, wants eventually to develop a whitewater park at the location.

Plans for the park are only in the formative stage, but members of the group are intent on seeing the idea through.

"They're popping up everywhere," said Shawn Tolivar, president of the group, whose members kayak most every weekend on the Kaw. "We're still in the early stages here, but hopefully we can get something arranged by next year."

Group members scouted several possible sites for a whitewater park on both the Kansas and Wakarusa rivers. They decided the location just east of the Bowersock Dam had the most potential.

Nicoya Helm, treasurer, cited three reasons for picking the area:

  • It is already part of the Riverfront Park, an area that is well-used and visible.
  • It would be fairly easy to make a whitewater park accessible to the public at that location.
  • It would not be difficult to add the river features needed to create whitewater beneath the dam.

The group envisions adding concrete walkways from the river's edge up the levees on both sides of the dam, and tying them into an existing hike-and-bike trail. The walkways would make the whitewater park accessible to kayakers boating in from above the dam. The location also would be easily accessible to "park and play" kayakers who would park in the city lot at Locust and North Second streets, carry their kayaks down to the river and ride the whitewater.

As for creating the whitewater where none exists, the group hopes to add about six inches to the rock weir already in the middle of the river below the dam. The added height, group members said, would help create a sheet of smooth water above a drop-off. Water mixing at the drop-off would create a short whitewater area.

Before any work can be done, the association needs to win the approval of the city of Lawrence, Bowersock Mills & Power Co., which operates and maintains the dam, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which would have to issue a permit to allow the changes.

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