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Just Add Water: Colorado Spring Racing Season
Just Two Months Away

February 26, 2013

by Denny Adams, Events and Program Chair

Writing about the upcoming spring race season is done with mixed emotions eager anticipation and dread of yet another bizarre year for our local region's climate. As I write this it is -16 degrees at 8:00 AM on another sunny and dry day. We have snow on the ground which has been there since Christmas Eve. Otherwise it's been a dry winter. A part of me is saying, "enough already, let's get warmer so I can paddle." Another part is asking "will we have enough water to float our boats this year?" The later concern threatens both our race season and our region's economic and ecologic well being.

Those living in our region understand the problems too well. Two years ago, in 2011, we had a near record snowpack that resulted in a very high runoff with higher numbers of boating fatalities. The high water conditions seriously impacted several major whitewater races including our wildwater national championships. On the positive side our reservoirs were filled. The following year, 2012, we had a very warm and dry winter with a very light snowpack which resulted in far more serious consequences.

2012 in Colorado featured several major forest and wild fires which burned approximately 500 square miles over several weeks. Firestorms in suburban neighborhoods of the Front Range destroyed around 600 homes. The cost of these fires was in the neighborhood of $200,000,000. The skiing and whitewater rafting industries, both very important in this state, likewise had very poor years. Wildlife populations have been impacted affecting the nearly as important hunting and fishing industry. Less serious in the bigger picture, wildwater racers had to deal with very dry, boney, and slow race courses. What kept 2012 from being extremely catastrophic was the water we had storage from 2011. Those reserves were pretty much used up and are no longer in place.

Last year's FIBArk Race winner Andy Cora described things best at the awards ceremony when he talked about going into a rapid paddling in a foot of water and having the river simply disappear halfway down. Two summers ago the Ark was running around 3000 CFS during FIBArk. Last summer we raced on 300 CFS. With our urgent need to replenish the reservoirs, even an average snowpack this winter and spring may result in there being less water in the rivers this next season. Far worse will be the case if our winter and spring precipitation is like we had last year-- poor whitewater racing conditions would be the least of our region's troubles.

As tenuous and ominous as this may read all that any of us can do is to keep faith and hope for the best. With this bigger and more serious picture acknowledged here is the Colorado Spring Wildwater Race Season as it currently stands:

Dates Event Details Contact
March 23,24,25 Lost in the Wilderness Wildwater Camp
Moab UT
Contact Denny Adams if interested.
Great Blue Heron Canoe & Kayak
Denny Adams,
April 6-7 Durango High School Cup Wildwater/Downriver Race
(Wildwater Race on 4/6)
Durango Whitewater, Durango, CO
Race director currently undetermined
Denny Adams,
April 13-14 FIBArk Racing Club High School Cup weekend
(Wildwater Race on 4/14)
Salida, CO
Matt or Jennifer Fritz,
April 20-21 Western US Jr National Wildwater Team Trials and Glenwood Wildwater Jubilee
(Four races in two days)
Colorado River, Glenwood Canyon
Glenwood Springs, CO
Great Blue Heron Canoe & Kayak Club
Denny Adams,
May 10-11 Colorado High School Cup Championships
St. Vrain River
Lyons, CO
Alexander Dawson School/Team Dawson
Nate Lord,