A Nordic Excavating track hoe places concrete blocks Thursday on the banks of the Yampa River that will be used to divert the river so repairs can be made to Charlie’s Hole across from Bud Werner Memorial Library. Work is expected to be complete by Wednesday. Parking at the library might be temporarily affected.

Photo by Matt Stensland

A Nordic Excavating track hoe places concrete blocks Thursday on the banks of the Yampa River that will be used to divert the river so repairs can be made to Charlie’s Hole across from Bud Werner Memorial Library. Work is expected to be complete by Wednesday. Parking at the library might be temporarily affected.

Efforts begin to fix Charlie's Hole in Steamboat

Repairs to Yampa River feature start with diversion of current

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— Fear not: The concrete parking lot dividers being placed in the Yampa River opposite the library Thursday are not permanent. Instead, they will be used to divert the current while repairs are made to the whitewater play feature known as Charlie’s Hole.

The standing wave at the C-Hole that delights kayakers during peak flows, tubers later in summer and swimmers after that wasn’t itself in 2010. White­­water enthusiasts and city officials deduced that the boulders that create the re-circulating wave had shifted.

“The stacks of boulders fell in on themselves,” Craig Robinson confirmed. “It’s the hydraulics — they found a weak spot.”

The city is spending about $27,000 with the help of a $1,000 contribution from Friends of the Yampa to make the C-Hole right again.

Robinson is the supervisor of open space and facilities at Howelsen Hill for the Steamboat Springs Parks, Open Space and Recreational Services Department.

Gary Lacy, of Recreation Engineering and Planning in Boulder, will be in town Monday and Tuesday, when a track hoe operator from Nordic Excavating will put the original boulders back in place.

Lacy’s first order of business will be inspecting the stones that “armor” the riverbed and support the boulders, to see whether any repairs need to be made, Robinson said.

This time around, a small amount of concrete grout will be used beneath the surface to more firmly anchor the boulders in place. That step is being taken with the approval of the Colorado Division of Wildlife and the Army Corps of Engineers. The nearby D-Hole already incorporates grout, Robinson said, and although it was approved for use on the C-Hole when it originally was built in 2003, it never was used.

The work on the C-Hole next week must be precise because it must faithfully restore the boulders to their originally surveyed elevation, Robinson said. That’s because those elevations were part of the basis of the city’s Recreational in Channel Diversion water right. Streamflow measurements for the RICD are taken just downstream, and the boulder elevations are recorded in the city’s approvals for the water right.

Still, Lacy hopes to improve the stability of the C-Hole while preserving its ideal play hole wave.

“He has some ideas on how to reposition the boulders and not change the elevation of the rocks,” Robinson said.

Peter Van De Carr, of Friends of the Yampa, said Lacy would be enticed to inspect other whitewater features in the town stretch of the river, such as the Z-Hole, to give suggestions about how they can be improved to make them more enjoyable for paddlers, tubers and trout fishermen.

The repairs are expected to be complete by Wednesday. In the meantime, patrons of the Bud Werner Memorial Library may be inconvenienced by a reduced number of parking spaces.

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