Water low, spirits high for Animas River Days

Cody Beach of Durango practices navigating the fast-moving Smelter Rapid on the Animas River. As of Friday afteroon, Beach had yet to decide which, if any, races to enter. Registration will be open until 30 minutes before race times. Enlarge photo

SHAUN STANLEY/Durango Herald

Cody Beach of Durango practices navigating the fast-moving Smelter Rapid on the Animas River. As of Friday afteroon, Beach had yet to decide which, if any, races to enter. Registration will be open until 30 minutes before race times.

By Luke Groskopf

Herald Staff Writer

Weather conditions are dry and the river is low for early June, but water enthusiasts will not be deterred from enjoying Animas River Days this weekend.

The three-day festival aims to “celebrate and enjoy the Animas River while educating the community about conservation,” said coordinator Kasey Ford.

This winter’s paltry snowpack means the Animas River is running only 1,250 cubic feet per second in downtown Durango, compared to a long–term average of 4,000 cfs and more than 7,000 cfs at this time last year, according to measurements by the U.S. Geological Survey.

Ford said all races and activities will carry on regardless.

Competitive events will start at 9:30 a.m. today with the slalom course at Smelter Rapid and will continue off and on through Sunday afternoon.

Registration for all races is open. Participants can sign up 30 minutes before race time at put-in locations.

There will be food vendors, a beer garden and live music at Santa Rita Park until 6 p.m. today, when costumed characters taking part in the river parade start to float on various inflatable vessels and homemade dinghies.

The party continues at 7 tonight at Ska Brewing Co.; Durango Transit will offer free bus rides between Santa Rita Park and the brewery in Bodo Park.

Other festivities today include a dog-fetching contest, “bubbles” enabling people to walk on water and a literal rubber ducky race.

River Days isn’t only about fun and games, however. The San Juan Citizens Alliance and Southwest Conservation Corps will offer educational seminars about river systems, clean water and aquatic life. Frosty Pines Environmental Wilderness Education will give out prizes to groups that collect the most trash, weight–wise, from the Animas banks and surrounding trails. The goal is to accumulate 2,000 pounds total.

“We want to fill two Dumpsters,” said executive director Marcie Morgan.

For a complete schedule of events, locations and times, visit www.animasriverdays.org.

lgroskopf@durangoherald.com

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