Renovating a River

Products At Work

Colorado-based contractor, Whinnery Construction is employing Volvo excavators to navigate the Animas River, ensuring safe passageway for whitewater enthusiasts. 

Nestled in the Animas River Valley, surrounded by the San Juan Mountains is the city of Durango, Colorado. The region’s evergreen forests and babbling creeks are attractions for locals and nature enthusiasts alike; bringing a steady flow of tourists throughout the year. With tourism the leading driver of Durango’s economy, maintenance on local attractions, such as the Durango Whitewater Park, is necessary.

The tourist hotspot is situated along the Animas River, a 126 mi (203 km) section of the Colorado River System. The Animas River runs through the bustling city of Durango and is one of the top whitewater stretches in the US, with flow rates ranging from 200- 6,000 cubic feet per second (cfs). The river is also recognized by Colorado wildlife officials as a Gold Medal Water. The status is reserved for waters that consistently support a minimum trout standing stock of 60 lb (27 kg) per acre and at least 12 trout, measuring 14 in. (355 mm) or longer, per acre.

Fitted with a rocksaw attachment, the Volvo excavator cuts the boulders with hairline accuracy.

In winter 2014, improvements were made to create waves and holes to enhance the Durango Whitewater Park. The features created were powerful and difficult for the average river users to enjoy during periods of high flow. To provide a more pronounced, easier passage for recreationists and improve the fish habitat, the Durango Whitewater Park is undergoing a $60,000 renovation to widen and lower the existing structures. The updates were scheduled from February to March of this year, and indeed much of the work was completed during that time. However, due to higher river flows, the remainder of the renovations has been delayed until later this year when the river lowers. The park remains open while renovations are ongoing.

Equipment used on the project includes

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Photography: Jerry McBride/Durango Herald/Polaris