Maintaining a healthy river, and a healthy river community, means more than simply keeping the water clean. Fishing, swimming, paddling, or simply walking along a river trail are important services that healthy rivers provide and they play an important role in maintaining the health, well-being, and quality of life for our communities.
That’s why, alongside our efforts to mitigate pollution in the Animas, we also work for safe, reliable river access and expanded opportunities for recreating on the water.
In 2018, we hosted the first overnight group trip of the lower Animas, introducing dozens of people to stretches of the river that are rarely seen. Building on the success of that event, we organized the first lower Animas raft race between Aztec and Farmington, New Mexico in 2019.
Our race was held in collaboration with Farmington’s Riverfest, an annual festival that draws tens of thousands of people to the Animas. Six teams representing local governments, businesses, and nonprofits paddled and rowed their hearts out to the cheers of Riverfest spectators. It was a big success, so we’re making it an annual event that will include even more teams in the future.
Beyond hosting on-water events, we’ve also worked to improve river access by engaging local governments and federal land management agencies.
After participating in our raft race, San Juan County in New Mexico announced they will be building a new public boat ramp in Cedar Hill in 2021, providing river access for a stretch of the river that desperately needs it.
We also worked with the Bureau of Land Management over the last four years to install new river signage along the lower Animas, alerting paddlers to sections of public land where it is safe and legal to step onshore, have a picnic, or camp overnight.
This year, we’re keeping a close eye on river access above Durango, where the only available boat ramp at Trimble Lane was recently purchased by a private developer. We’ve already highlighted the importance of that ramp during the county development process, and it’s looking like the new owner is committed to keeping it in place for the benefit of the local community.
We had to postpone all of our river events in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but with the distribution of vaccines, there’s a light at the end of tunnel. Stay connected with us for the latest on river events, public river access, and more in 2021.
See you on the water!