Work on the Animas River directly upstream from the Main Street bridge is needed to stabilize the banks and the trees, and it may include a new river feature.
The Animas River Task Force, a group of stakeholders, discussed the future of the site at a meeting Thursday and decided more time was needed to determine whether a compromise could be reached on new boulders for boaters.
River improvements in this area are called for in the Animas River Master Plan approved by Durango City Council, and all the stakeholders agreed safety improvements are needed.
But Colorado Parks and Wildlife biologist Jim White raised concerns that boulders for boaters could hurt the prime fishing area.
“Fish avoid these whitewater park features as habitat,” he said.
The new boulders could change the velocity of the water and disrupt the fish. It also would draw far more people in kayaks and tubes and discourage fishermen, he said.
However, Aaron Lombardo, who recently raised $25,000 in cash and in-kind donations, believes that whitewater parks can create fish habitat rather than driving them away.
“What we plan to do is just really try to make it work with the fishermen,” said Lombardo, who was unable to attend the meeting.
A board member with the local chapter of Trout Unlimited, Ty Churchwell, argued this project could make local anglers feel like construction in the river might be endless.
Even though the site is part of the master plan, it does need to be evaluated for its own merit, White said. He suggested looking at an alternative site.
The project also must be granted federal permits before construction can start.