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Whitewater Park proposed at Springville Dam

Along with many other renovations, a whitewater park has been proposed for the Springville dam in the Cattaraugus Creek.
CONCORD—Anyone who likes paddling sports or anyone who just likes to enjoy the outdoors will hopefully be able to enjoy Cattaraugus Creek even more with the work of the Springville Whitewater Park organization.

The Springville Whitewater Park organization has a plan to build a whitewater park at the Springville Dam that will include rapids for all skill levels for everything from kayaks to rafting to stand-up paddle boarding. For people who don’t want to raft or kayak an entire section of the creek, this park provides a place for paddlers to just park and play in one central area.

But, the uses for this park do not just end there. The park would create eddies and pool for improved fishing, allow a place for police and fire departments to practice swift water rescue and provide a place for schools and scout field trips to learn about river ecology, environmental conservation and other natural sciences.

The Springville Dam does not meet current safety regulations and work is planned to bring the dam back into compliance. Along with those changes, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and Erie County Parks is looking to alter the dam to allow fish passage between the upper and lower watersheds while also preventing the movement and reproduction of the invasive sea lamprey. The Springville Whitewater Park would be built along with these changes if everything falls into place.

The benefits to a whitewater park go much farther than just providing a place for people to kayak and raft; it also provides a great benefit to the Cattaraugus Creek both environmentally and aesthetically.

“ It helps with river beautification and if people want to go to the park or have a nice hike, they can look at beautiful rapids,” said Jeff Morreale, executive director for the Springville Whitewater Park. “The rapids can also create pools that can be good areas for fish spawning.”

But even beyond just helping the creek, there are many economic benefits and greater tourism opportunities with this project. A whitewater park will bring in tourists from all over and can also be an attraction for future festivals and competitions.

“There have been economic impact studies that have been done that show a million dollars in economic impact in some areas with whitewater parks,” said Morreale. “For a lot of cities that have them, they have seen an increase in home ownership values and people go into towns and go to restaurants and other places.”

So far, the Springville Whitewater Park has gotten a lot of support from a lot of people in the community. Groups like the Zoar Valley Paddling Club and American Whitewater have provided their support for the cause along with many Springville businesses. They have also talked with USACE, who said they don’t have any issues against the idea.

The Springville Whitewater Park is now working on gaining more support from Erie County and other related organizations so they can get funding for the project and eventually hire a whitewater park engineer for their preliminary designs.

“Our next step is to check out the funding and find out what grants are available for us,” said Morreale.

For more information on the Springville Whitewater Park, visit springvillewhitewater.org.


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