Doing research on the Boise River Recreation Park for an upcoming story in June 28's Idaho Outdoors, I stumbled across a column I wrote in 1994. I can't believe we were thinking about it back then and now it's a reality. Here it is:
Got a couple dozen giant boulders, a dump truck and a front-end loader I can borrow?
No, I'm not trying to landscape my back yard.
Actually, I'd like to dump the boulders at key locations in the Boise River and create big rapids.
Hold it. Before you try to wrap a canoe paddle around my neck, I don't really want to dunk a bunch of tubers.
I'd just like to have a place to practice my whitewater canoeing skills in town, like during my lunch hours or in the evenings after work.
I bet there are a bunch of kayakers and canoeists who'd like to see more whitewater on the Boise River.
Have you seen how many kayakers play below the diversion dam near Gate City Steel (the place that burned down) when the flow is good?
There were a couple of boaters using the whitewater waves below the dam almost every day since last March. It shows the need, and the popularity, for some kind of manmade white water course on the Boise River.
Fellow paddler Wink Jones and I were drifting along the Main Payette River below Banks the other day talking about how lucky we are to have a whitewater run about 45 minutes from Boise.
Then we started thinking how cool it would be to have a practice area right in Boise on the Boise River.
It's not too far fetched. Whitewater parks are springing up around the country, like in Durango, Colo., and South Bend, Ind.
Come on, if South Bend can have one, Boise's gotta have one. "Paddler" magazine recently had a story about the popularity of whitewater parks. Basically, a whitewater park is a stretch of river with man-made rapids.
Purist paddlers may scoff at the idea. But hey, weren't some of the major rapids on the North Fork of the Payette River created when boulders were dumped in the river while Idaho 55 or the railroad were being built?
The idea is not new. A whitewater park was built for the Munich Olympics in 1972.
There are plans for one in Idaho Falls. The Snake River Whitewater Project calls for building one on the Snake River 3 miles upriver from town. Planners estimate it will cost $3 million.
With the popularity of whitewater sports in Boise, the town's ripe for a whitewater park.
The whitewater course would have to be built on an unpopular stretch of river, not along the section from Barber Park to Ann Morrison Park.
We don't want to dunk a bunch of tubers or beginner canoeists by turning that mellow section of river into a churning, Class Three (intermediate) tube-eating stream.
There's the section below the diversion dam at Ann Morrison Park down river to the Fairview Avenue bridge. Or, the stretch from the diversion just upstream from Veterans Memorial State Park to the Glenwood Bridge.
Tubers and beginner boaters don't use this section. In fact, you hardly see any floaters in the area.
These sections are still along the Greenbelt and offer good access. Greenbelt users would also get a kick out of watching kayakers or canoeists thread their way through rapids.
There's also the possibility of bringing international whitewater competition to Boise, which could help the economy.
Fishing would be improved, too. Boulders would help create trout habitat.
Of course, state and federal permits would have to be obtained but a whitewater park for the Boise River isn't that far fetched. It's an idea that whitewater enthusiasts should pursue.
Anybody got some extra boulders they want to get rid of?
Photo of a kayaker on the wave at the Boise River Recreation Park on June 20 - By Pete Zimowsky/Idaho Statesman