City not planning to dye or reverse flow of river

Associated Press file photo

Despite Action Line’s tongue-in-cheek suggestion for residents to lobby for it, the city of Durango is unlikely to dye the Animas River green like Chicago does to its Chicago River every year for St. Patrick’s Day.

Now that the city has “fixed” the river at Smelter Rapid for kayakers and rafters, shouldn’t tax money now be spent to “fix” the river at Oxbow, where the current is too slow for tubing? The tubing community demands equal accommodation. Sign me, Annie Mouse

Goodness knows that we don’t want to upset the tubers. After all, they have invested so much time and money on their aquatic sport.

What we need is a bold vision for tubing at Oxbow Park and Preserve. And with enough heavy equipment, engineering and funding, anything is possible.

For that, let’s be inspired by Chicago, where at the dawn of the 20th century, engineers reversed the flow of the Chicago River.

Instead of the Chicago River sluggishly oozing east through the city into Lake Michigan, a series of canals and locks were built, and now the Chicago River goes the opposite direction – from the lake, west through downtown Windy City and out to the Mississippi River drainage.

We could do the same at Oxbow – reverse the flow of the Animas so the current would flow up valley, creating a recirculating Tubing Park.

Such an improvement would put Durango on the tubing map (if there is such a thing).

Moreover, the Army Corp of Engineers and Bureau of Reclamation are itching for another gravity-defying water project now that Lake Nighthorse is finished and they have nothing to do.

Durango could also adopt Chicago’s practice of changing the color of the river. Every St. Patrick’s Day, the Second City does a first-rate job of dyeing its river green.

We could do something similar for Durango’s many important holidays.

Imagine dyeing the Animas River white for Snowdown, yellow for the Dandelion Festival and a lovely blush rosé to commemorate the Durango Wine Experience.

Or we can do a summer-long green-dye job, to symbolize the city’s efforts to commercialize the river corridor. A green-dyed river would also match Durango’s new “bike boxes.”

In any case, reversing the flow of the Animas River and dyeing the water are not options being considered by the Durango Parks & Recreation Advisory Board.

The board last week approved conceptual plans for river access at Santa Rita Park, 29th Street, 33rd Street and Oxbow.

The combined cost of improvements is estimated at $4.26 million, which includes changing rooms, toilets, parking, boat tie-offs, paths, Dumpsters, revegetation and other park-like stuff.

But neither the Oxbow project nor any other river enhancement include altering the course and hue of the Animas River. Our good friend and board member Peter Schertz confirmed this fact.

“I have not heard of such plans,” he deadpanned.

Action Line suggests the tubing community hire a team of lobbyists to advocate their positions and represent their interests. Otherwise, the river will continue to flow in a non-tubing-efficient manner.

durango colorado

Irony is the theme of this week’s Mea Culpa Mailbag, as two loyal readers pose some paradoxical punditries.

First, regarding the ongoing debate on where to site retail marijuana shops downtown, our good friend Tim shakes his head.

“This boggles my mind. The city wanted to see how other towns deal with legalized pot shops. So they ask Leadville what it did,” Tim points out.

“The Leadville staffer advised Durango to ‘treat retail marijuana stores just like liquor stores, bars, breweries,’ adding this advice: ‘don’t overthink this or overcomplicate this.’

“So what do city leaders do? They decide to study it some more and come up with a lot of regulations.”

Our good friend Davitt burst out laughing when the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad was asked if it was planning a special marijuana-themed ride.

The train’s response: “Our train rides are nonsmoking.”

“A coal-fired train is nonsmoking? Call it an iron-horse irony,” he concludes.

Email questions to or mail them to Action Line, The Durango Herald, 1275 Main Ave., Durango, CO 81301. You can request anonymity if civil engineering means not arguing about building public facilities.

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