River recreationists should embrace Brady Trucking
Kayaker access to the best Colorado River sections requires collaboration with the property owners who control their banks. There are numerous stories about landowner confrontations, but one in particular comes to mind.
In that story, a fellow kayaker had parked himself and his boat on a coffee-table-size 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 possible construction of a kayak park is presented as a rationale for denying important employment uses on the riverfront, it only makes life worse for river enthusiasts and their continuing efforts to find common ground with landowners and their businesses.
Instead of castigating Brady Trucking for cleaning up the riverfront and providing trail and river access, genuine river enthusiasts applaud its efforts and hope that Brady’s community-minded approach will serve as a model to 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, the accompanying before-and-after photos should demonstrate the company’s work to date to remove the asbestos-laden buildings and equipment that comprised the property’s former use as a dead-animal processing operation.
The company also has a site plan that shows the 50-foot trail and landscape section that would become part of the riverfront.
Some of the company’s opponents had requested that the property be rezoned for a mixture of residential and commercial development. Thus, under the opponents’ 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 and 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 concerts and other riverfront uses.
All indications are that Brady Trucking and other riverfront employers will be good neighbors to kayakers and others, for a long time to come.
Mike Foster is a Grand Junction resident and a kayaker.