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Canoe ramps coming soon to North Platte River
May 29, 2014 Jerry Purvis   

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Within the next few weeks, canoe enthusiasts will have a spot to launch their craft into the North Platte River.

Brenda Leisy, director of the Scotts Bluff Area Visitors Bureau, said they’ve been working with the City of Scottsbluff on the project to build two launch ramps on the river. One is in Riverside Park, next to the parking lot behind the Riverside Discovery Center. The other is off 5th Avenue, just past the Valley Ambulance and Ideal Linen buildings.

“One of our goals from last year was to do smaller demonstration projects, so this fits within what we set out to do,” Leisy said. “We were awarded a $1,000 grant to have Scottsbluff do the work, which is mainly moving some dirt and gravel.”

It’s a short canoe ride downriver between the two ramps, but it is being used as a feasibility project to determine public support for the recreation venue.

“Once we get the information out about what we did, maybe Mitchell, Minatare or another town might have a site where they’d like to build a ramp,” she said. “With more ramps, we can start building a map for canoe enthusiasts to follow on the river.”

In addition to the map, the tourism group would like to print a “rules card” to help during the canoe trip.
Leisy outlined the project for county commissioners at their last meeting. She had found a potential site, but road access to the river was unacceptable for people who use their vehicles to bring in their canoes. She said the tourism group will continue to work with the county to identify potential sites that could work for launch ramps.

Nathan Johnson, Scottsbluff’s assistant city manager, said the Riverside Park launch ramp is ready to go, but the one on 5th Avenue will need some work.

“It’s mostly dirt work that needs to be done, but we also have to stay within Corps of Engineers guidelines when building the pathway to the launch,” he said. “With the upcoming tourism season, we’d like to get that done as soon as possible.”

He added that river levels are high right now, but he expects the work to be completed within the next couple of weeks.
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