The South Platte River through Littleton will be closed to recreation for the first time in memory on July 14, in an attempt to prevent damage to the river habitat from potentially thousands of …
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The South Platte River through Littleton will be closed to recreation for the first time in memory on July 14, in an attempt to prevent damage to the river habitat from potentially thousands of “tubers” drawn by a viral Facebook post.
The event, called “2nd annual Floating Party Tubing down the Platte River,” called for attendees to gather at the spot where C-470 crosses the Platte River, just below Chatfield Dam, to float down the river in inflatable innertubes. The event garnered tens of thousands of RSVPs.
“A large number of users in the river would cause potential damage, including trash, disturbance to wildlife habitat, water-quality issues, and negative impacts on downstream users,” City Manager Mark Relph said in a press release.
The problem is that the river is far lower than normal, causing concern for fragile wildlife habitat in the area, said South Platte Park manager Skot Latona.
“Normally at this time of year, we'd see the river flowing at a few hundred cubic feet per second,” Latona said. “Right now, we're at all of 20 cubic feet per second. The aquatic habitat is really stressed this year, and the fish are seeking refuge.”
Though some pools are still floatable, the river's riffles would require tubers to stand up, stirring up sediment and crushing aquatic life, Latona said.
The event was organized by Joe Hendricks as a promotion for his fitness training company, It Burns Joe Fitness, based in Westminster. Hendricks did not respond to requests for comment.
Hendricks never attempted to make preparations with the city for such a large event, said City of Littleton spokeswoman Kelli Narde.
“He never applied for an event permit,” Narde said. “No arrangements were made for how to get people in and out of the area, where people would park or how trash removal would be handled.”
The city sent Hendricks a letter directing him to cancel the event in early June, Narde said.
The Facebook event is listed as canceled, but the event is still listed as active on at least two other websites as of July 12 — each listing thousands of RSVPs of their own. Numerous people commented on the canceled Facebook event saying they still plan on attending.
“So we're still all showing up right????” one said.
“Awe man. They can't stop us from floating! Lets go!” said another.
The city compelled Hendricks to cancel a similar event last year due to low water levels, though hundreds still showed up.
Park rangers and Littleton police officers will be stationed at put-ins along the river to turn back potential floaters, Narde said. Those who float anyway could face trespassing charges, she added.
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