Paddleboarders urge new regulations |

Paddleboarders urge new regulations

Paige Blankenbuehler
summit daily news
Summit Daily/Paige Blankenbuehle

A full room of community members sat in front of the Dillon Reservoir Recreation Committee’s Tuesday meeting to discuss modernizing and relaxing the regulations on stand-up paddle- boards on Dillon Reservoir.

Current regulations from the committee require windsurfers and stand-up paddleboarders to wear either a dry or wet suit while recreating.

The attire requirement has been met with contention from some of those active in the paddleboard community who say the sport is growing rapidly and that suits pose potential danger to recreationalists who could over heat in summer temperatures.

The committee met the public comments with the fact that it is very likely that the wet suit requirement will be dropped while personal floatation devices and leashes may be added as a requirement.

“The PFD issue is not an issue, in fact, we recommend it,” said Mike Ace Durkee, an avid stand-up paddleboarder. “It’s a non-issue – it is the wet suit issue that we are more concerned about.”

increased popularity of stand-up paddleboarders to the infancy stage of snowboarding.

“No one knew what to make of snowboarding when it first became popular – no one knew if that would be safe on the mountain,” Durkee said. “Paddleboarding is bringing thousands of people to lakes like Dillon Reservoir to spectate in races, train at high altitudes and enjoy the sport leisurely.”

Dillon Reservoir is perfectly situated for an elite, high-altitude training location for elite athletes, said some members of the public at the meeting.

“This is an unbelievably popular, up-and-coming sport – Dillon could be one of the best locations for stand-up paddleboarding in the world,” Durkee said.

“No decision has been finalized, but there will be a change to the regulations imposed on paddleboarders,” said committee chair Howard Scott, recreation technician for the U.S. Forest Service. “This is a fun committee to be on because sports are always changing – we just need to responsibly and appropriately come up with modern regulations on these types of recreationalists.”

The water quality concerns held before is not as critical due to improvements in water treatment, though the temperature of the water is a cause for concern for inexperienced users of the reservoir.

Scott raised the concern that the cold water temperatures lends to the possibility of those using a paddle board to go into “cold shock” which triggers a person to gasp for air and potentially drown.

“We need to consider all of the possibilities,” Scott said. “If we allow stand-up paddleboards then what is stopping an inflatable mattress from using the reservoir?”

The committee made clear that safety on the reservoir was the top priority.

“Dillon Reservoir is unique because we see a wide range of novice to expert users,” Scott said. “Regulations on paddleboards need to apply to all walks of life – we need to give regulations a lot of thought to make it as safe as possible on the water.”

Since the end of the season is approaching, new regulations are not likely to go into affect until the summer of 2013.

“I think we’ve missed the boat on changing the regulations for this season,” Scott said. “A decision would need to be made almost immediately in order to implement new rules by fall – we’re not to that point yet.”

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