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The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

home : opinions : opinions February 6, 2016

4/9/2014 1:58:00 PM
Commentary: Help make the Verde River @ Clarkdale the premier river park in the Southwest
Doug Von Gausig
Doug Von Gausig
By Doug Von Gausig
My Turn

In mid-2011, the Town of Clarkdale identified the Verde River as a key resource in Clarkdale that was under-utilized, inaccessible, and as a result, economically undervalued by the town and its residents. 

The key to the Verde River @ Clarkdale project is the belief that it is possible to protect and restore the river and its habitat, while honoring existing water rights, enhancing the public's experience and improving the economy of Clarkdale. Believing strongly in the idea that people who feel a connection to the Verde River will be more willing to take steps to protect it, Clarkdale sought opportunities to increase the public's access to the river.

Last week, we were thrilled to witness one of those rare transformational moments in the history of the Verde Valley. It was a real "tear down that wall" moment, when the Clarkdale town crew broke through the berm at "Lower Tapco" to create a new entrance road into riverfront property that had been off limits to the public for many years. Thanks to the generosity of Freeport McMoRan Copper and Gold, Inc. (who made the land available through a License Agreement to the Town of Clarkdale), the Lower Tapco site, 109 acres and more than a mile of river, will soon become the upper public park for the nearly 4-mile long "Verde River @ Clarkdale" project.

The downstream anchor park is the Tuzigoot River Access Point, or "TuziRAP" at the Tuzigoot Bridge.

This beautiful riparian area, with its two river access points, or "RAPs," on each end will be like no other in the state. This dream will be more than just a park, it will be an experience!

Kayakers and canoeists, fishing enthusiasts, birders, hikers and folks who just want to relax under a cool cottonwood tree will have a great new place to enjoy. And educators will have a public park where they can teach youngsters (and oldsters!) about how a river works and how to help us all conserve its treasures. This will also be an event venue for nature seminars, boating classes, and fishing tournaments.

On May 9, the Town of Clarkdale will begin the public scoping process by convening a public meeting at which we'll solicit your ideas for the park's master plan. At this meeting, anyone who wants a say in how these parks are equipped, used and managed can lend their thoughts and opinions about park facilities, access times, and ways to see that we don't "love the river to death."

We want the Verde River @ Clarkdale to serve the people and the economy as well as the Verde River itself, and you can make sure that happens right!

Please watch the Town's website at www.clarkdale.az.gov/ or this newspaper for more information on this important process.

All parks are expensive to build and equip and even more expensive to operate. Usually, municipal parks must either bring in revenues from entrance fees, events, commercial use or a combination of these to stay solvent.

Sometimes cities or towns have sufficient sales tax or property tax income to use those funds to pay for parks. Clarkdale is not one of these! Because of its small size and budgetary constraints, we will need to find innovative and equitable ways to pay the expenses of these parks.

The public scoping process may include your ideas about how this can happen so that we minimize the impact on the general public who want to use the park for a day's swimming or boating. The goal will always be to allow more people to use these parks as inexpensively as is possible.

The rewards for doing this right are enormous. This new project will make the Verde River part of the hearts, minds and lives of thousands of new river advocates, like you and me! It will help us build knowledge, understanding and love for a river whose life expectancy might otherwise be just a few decades.

The Town of Clarkdale knows that when people make the Verde River one of their priorities and one of their passions, it is more likely that they'll do what's necessary to ensure its survival. This is the primary goal behind this bold new idea.

So come help us make the Verde River @ Clarkdale an experience - your experience! Help us make this a model for how a river should be treated and how people can work together to save a beautiful, unique riparian habitat. Help us by attending the public scoping meetings and by sharing your feelings, thoughts, ideas and experience.

Together, we can make this the premier river park in the Southwest.

Doug Von Gausig is the Mayor of Clarkdale.

Related Stories:
• Letter: Mayor Von Gausig is on the right path

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Reader Comments

Posted: Friday, April 25, 2014
Article comment by: Are you talking to me?

I live here, guy. The Main St. & Rincon intersection is just fine. We don't want people tearing through here looking for river access. For that you go to Tuzigoot or Sycamore Canyon Road.

Posted: Thursday, April 24, 2014
Article comment by: @ The Party Pooper, wrong intersection, down where you drop into lower lower town.

Sorry to rain on the parade... just seems unfortunate that streets literally crumble while the RAPS are all the hap's.

Posted: Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Article comment by: @ The Party Pooper

Some people can kayak and chew gum at the same time. Clarkdale's addressing the odd intersection at Broadway and Main, which will eliminate the potholes that refuse to stay fixed. But what's your beef? Access to the River Run is off Sycamore Canyon Road.

Posted: Monday, April 21, 2014
Article comment by: All hail the RAPS The streets have gone to craps.

A drive over main in lower Clarkdale indicates that they have not been spending $ on the streets.

Crumbling and potholes oh my!

Slap a kayak on it and it's good to go!

Posted: Tuesday, April 15, 2014
Article comment by: Chris Jensen

The Verde River contributes to the economic and environmental health of the Verde Valley, as well as the overall quality of life we enjoy here. Unfortunately, there are people in the Verde Valley who are either not aware of, or do not realize the the value of the Verde River to the Verde Valley. What Mayor VonGausig is doing will rectify that so more people will realize just how import the Verde River is to the overall well being of the Verde Valley. The majority of the unavoidable cost associated with a river park should be paid by companies who use the river park to make money. In the end it is important that the people of the Verde Valley value the Verde River because what people value they take care of, what they don't value, they lose.

Chris Jensen

Posted: Tuesday, April 15, 2014
Article comment by: Mark Alan

If you put in at the Tuzigoot bridge you'll have maybe 500 yards of travel before the water diversion project, then what?
There's barely enough water flow through here to float a leaf let alone a canoe. Sure you can hike the 50-60 yards to a larger "pool", but then you're looking at another hike to get past Dead Horse. The Verde River is barely a creek all the way around here.
If you want to see just how bad the river condition truly is go see the Upper Verde out Sycamore Canyon Rd., then at Tapco - Tuzigoot, then go to the end of Dead Horse and see the little creek its reduced to there.
If your real adventurous drive out Fossil Creek Rd. for a look at it after its left the valley - it will make you sad.

Posted: Monday, April 14, 2014
Article comment by: Dam It

So every one can use it!

Posted: Monday, April 14, 2014
Article comment by: Correct me if I'm wrong,

but isn't the proposed fee ONLY for the outfitters who are going to oversee groups who rent their kayaks?

Clarkdale cannot charge a kayaker who comes down the river from somewhere farther upstream.

Posted: Monday, April 14, 2014
Article comment by: two cents

The revenue I have seen that has increased, is the fines handed out for fishing, by the state game and fish, below the Tuzigoot bridge. I don't see enough boating activity happening that would affect anything that isn't already being affected.

The river is a public resource and if the people are kept off of this section of the river, either by fees or private land owners, the awareness and love we are trying to nurture for the Verde River and everything it stands for, will be lost due to apathy by denying access to the very people that will help to save it.

There is an infrastructure in place at Deadhorse, and many amenities that justify usage fees.

We are getting ahead of ourselves and putting the cart before the horse. There is nothing out there yet to justify fees to people that can go to the north end of Deadhorse state park and avoid all of the portage required after the ditch association takes their water.
just my two cents for what its worth, and I do appreciate the efforts being made

Posted: Monday, April 14, 2014
Article comment by: A Great Idea

I think what the town and the owners of the property are doing is great. I have no issue with the fee, though I would like to see a more cost effective yearly pass available possibly. The mine doesn’t even have to open up their property to allow anyone access but instead they are working with Clarkdale on a way to share their land with the community and a way a manage the use of that land in hopes of keeping the glass out of the river and piles of trash being illegally dumped out there. The traffic on that road already sucks, so with their being more traffic on it, I just hope now people will have to slow down. Maybe the fees will even help with it getting paved a little further out. The fee will suck but a small price to pay to keep from having to see piles of trash a furniture parts dumped out there as it has been the case in the good old days. I would like to see a campground/RV park out there possible along with a day use park.

Posted: Sunday, April 13, 2014
Article comment by: Sell it! Exploit it!

I've always loved takeout. Fees, not so much.

Follow the money, who will benefit from this business? Not the Verde River.

Just another way to make locals pay for what's already theirs. At least it used to be.

Posted: Saturday, April 12, 2014
Article comment by: Where's the beef?

Wintertime's usually a time for clear water in the Verde, but lately the river's been looking like a mudhole through Clarkdale. It looks pretty clean up in the Coconino forest, so where's the mud coming from?

Makes me wonder, was it only the eagle egg that caused the original kayak access area to be abandoned, or were the copious cow pats covering the ground also a factor?

Maybe the water quality should be checked before putting a bunch of boaters on the river.

Posted: Thursday, April 10, 2014
Article comment by: Slater Slater

Just keep the beer cans on the banks of the river.Thank you

Posted: Thursday, April 10, 2014
Article comment by: Takeout fees ?

Interesting thought... so they charge a 5 spot to drop in, what does the take out point get to charge?

One guesses they are hoping to keep all the boaters in Clarkdale proper betwixt their own 2 Rap's perhaps?

The slippery slope of loving the verde to death has begun, the dichotomy of pining over the drying up of the verde and at the same time using it to wet the wheels of a town gov't. is perplexing. Holding the line that it is the whole valleys responsibility to keep the river flowing and at the same time asserting control over access to a resource that we are all asked to be conservators for.

As the number of people in the valley is often targeted as a source of the drain on the verde here we are inviting people to pay for the luxury of contaminating/using the very river we are in love with.

Torn between the past and present
a long time locals solemn lament
over various locations of $ spent
we all inhabit the same tent
& share the same intent
before the verde went

Posted: Thursday, April 10, 2014
Article comment by: V V

Where does the 4 mile take out end on this project......Deadhorse state park, Riverfront park?greenway?
Will this be a city, county, state, private or what park.? Who profits? Who buys? Who maintains?
As I agree that Clarkdale needs and deserves tourism this must be well planned as Doug suggest.
I have always thought Clarkdale would be great for artsy fartsy, like old fashion store fronts, picture windows with furniture makers, a bakery, a step back in time look. That will draw people. Offer no or cheap rent to get the people in the shops. Just a thought.

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