Friday, August 17, 2012

Salmon Whitewater Park gains momentum

Salmon Whitewater Park site plan showing water features above and below US Hwy 93 bridge.

The Salmon Whitewater Park (SWP) planning process continues to move forward. On August 7th, the Steele-Reese Foundation awarded $15,000 to help prepare Final Engineering Plans for a whitewater park in downtown Salmon, Idaho.

Meanwhile, four members of the Salmon Whitewater Park Association (SWPA) met with reps from the City of Salmon and the Lemhi County Economic Development Association last week to work on details of a Development Agreement regarding the whitewater park.

Breann Westfall, SWPA spokeswoman, reports the meeting was very productive. "We made a lot of headway, she said, "and we will be meeting with the City again this week to iron out a few things out that came up in last week's meeting."

"We're getting much closer to a draft agreement that can be brought before the City Council for consideration," Westfall noted, adding. "The most important thing the City is concerned with is that it won't  cost any City money." Westfall said the agreement will be for Phase I - only consisting of Permitting and Final Engineering Plans. Salmon City Council consideration of the agreement may take place early next month.

The Steele-Reese Foundation was created in 1955 by Eleanor Steele Reese (1893-1977) whose roots in Lemhi County date back to 1941 when she moved with husband Emmet to a small working ranch near Shoup. This is the second Steele-Reece grant received on behalf of Salmon Whitewater Park planning.

This year's $15,000 Steele-Reese grant brings cumulative Salmon Whitewater Park funding to more than $58,000 since 2005 when the Salmon Rotary Club provided $500 seed money and the Hemmert Foundation added $5000 to create a Conceptual Design for whitewater park in Salmon.

In 2010, a $10,000 City of Salmon Local Option Tax grant helped jump start preliminary engineering design work and a bathymetric river survey. Several grants and fundraisers received in 2011 helped gain momentum for the Salmon Whitewater Park. Last year's inaugural Riverfest raised $2500, $600 of which helped prepare a Request for Proposal for final engineer plans. A $10,000 Steele-Reese grant funded a biological assessment and the permit application process. Formation Capital showed it support for the whitewater park with $10,000 to conduct a biological study of the river reach where the park will be located.

Late last year, a private fundraiser by the SWPA raised $2,500 to begin work on the Final Engineering Plans, estimated to cost $40,000. So far this year, $2,500 from the Idaho Wild River License Plate fund has been awarded in addition to this month's second Steele-Reece grant.  The 2012 Riverfest raised $2000 and a recent Arctic adventure lecture added another $150.  SWPA members are optimistic the second half of funding needed for the Final Engineering Plans can be secured soon. Overall cost to get the whitewater park up and running is estimated between $300,000-$400,000.

According to SWPA spokeswoman Breann Westfall, The Salmon Whitewater Park will have three wave features ranging in size from intermediate to an advanced feature. Westfall said none of the wave features span the entire river and all ensure safe passage for river users and fish. The preliminary design of the park shown above can be seen at the City of Salmon office; Saveway and the Odd Fellows' Bakery on Main Street. "Initially, we will develop the waves and ensure Island Park safety features are in place," Westfall said. Long term phases of the project before could include historical displays, natural resource education, and improved Island Park facilities.

Since Durango, Colorado developed the nation's first whitewater park back on the Animas River about 30 years ago, interest in the concept has surged in all parts of America with over 30 such parks now in operation. Two Idaho whitewater parks opened this year in Boise and on the North Fork of the Payette River near Cascade. Both proved immediately popular and continue to draw heavy usage through the 2012 summer boating season.

The Salmon Whitewater Park Association (SWPA) is an independent group, resgistered as a Idaho non-profit association. SWPA is fically sponsored by The Lemhi County Economic Development Association to facilitate grant applications and awards. SWPA members include: Breann Westfall, hydrologist and SWPA Project Manager; Craig McCallum, Oddfellows Bakery; Amy & Seth Tonsmeire, Wilderness River Outfitters; Russ Chinske, Salmon School District; Mark Troy, Idaho Adventures; Chase Slavin, Lemhi Title; and Preston Rufe, Formation Capital.

"The Salmon Whitewater Park will compliment the Salmon River and its natural function while promoting the long-term economic sustainability of Salmon," Ms. Westfall explained, adding "SWPA is committed to protecting all facets of both the river’s natural resources and Island Park's natural features while meeting all requirements of the multi-agency permitting process."

We welcome volunteers who want to get involved in the Salmon Whitewater Park," Ms. Westfall said, "and we encourage community input." SWPA volunteers are available to give presentations for Salmon and Lemhi County organizations.

More information can be found at the SWPA's website:
The website has an excellent FAQ about the project located here:

Our next article will discuss the Salmon Whitewater Park in more detail and describe other whitewater
parks and the economic impacts on their communities.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wish you were also covering the Mustang Fire complex in such detail. Information coming off that fire has been minimal and filtered only through the Inciweb updates.