To the editor:
Kayaker access to the best Colorado River sections requires collaboration with the property owners that control their banks. There are numerous stories about landowner run-ins, but one in particular comes to mind. In that story, a fellow kayaker had parked himself and his boat on a coffee table-sized boulder in the middle of a raging rapid on the Bailey Canyon section of the North Fork of the South Platte, which runs in the highly populated foothills of Denver. He was trying to get a second look at a fallen tree that was blocking a very challenging section of that run, and he was more than a little intimidated by the record water level. While looking for a route around the tree, he turned to face an agitated homeowner whose manicured backyard bordered the rapid. The homeowner informed him that she had alerted the sheriff to his trespass and demanded that he vacate her boulder immediately. Faced with the prospect of arrest for trespass or getting stuffed under a tree, the kayaker had to take a minute to gather his wits and re-launch while the yelling continued.
The point of the story is to demonstrate that kayakers need all the help that they can get in building bridges with landowners. So when the construction of a kayak park is presented as a rationale for denying Brady Trucking the use of its property, it only makes life worse for river enthusiasts and their continuing efforts to find common ground with landowners.
Instead of castigating the company for cleaning up the riverfront and providing trail and river access, genuine river enthusiasts applaud those efforts and hope that Brady Trucking’s community minded approach will serve as a model for other landowners. After all, rational river runners don’t understand how the persecution of Brady Trucking will encourage other landowners with river frontage to cooperate on public access. River enthusiasts also realize that kayak parks require thousands of tons of boulders that need to be TRUCKED in.
For those who question the benefits of Brady Trucking’s ownership, before and after photos demonstrate the company’s work to date to remove the buildings and equipment that comprised the property’s former use as a dead animal processing operation. A site plan shows the 50-foot trail and landscape section that would become part of the riverfront.
The company’s opponents had requested that the property be re-zoned for a mixture of residential and commercial development. Thus, under the opponent’s plan, a property that consists primarily as a couple of buildings in an expanse of open yard would give way to a much denser commercial/residential project with multiple buildings connected by paved parking lots and paved street sections. This form of development would inevitably lead to a much higher volume of stormwater discharge to the river, higher traffic impacts and more conflicts with public concert events and other riverfront uses.
In the end, I think kayakers would much prefer Brady Trucking as their long-term neighbor.
Mike Foster, Grand Junction