Monday, May 12, 2008

Kayak 'non launch' update

I called the Anoka County Parks this morning and politely and calmly inquired about the kayak launching ban at the Wargo Nature Center. The woman who picked up the phone told me she would check with the operations manager and get back to me. Surprisingly, she did so in about 5 minutes. There are apparently two reasons that the general public can't launch here. When the first words out of her mouth were "Risk Management" I envisioned another cliff jumping type episode and was prepared to launch into a debate or perhaps a libertarian rant. The problem however, had nothing to do with possible injury. Wargo Nature Center is a secured area. That simply means they lock the gate when the center closes. The latest its open all week is 5pm on Saturday and Sunday. While you can debate the logic of closing the nature center just when most of the potential users get off work, you can't debate the fact that if you launched at 3pm and got back at 7pm and found your car locked in, you would be just a bit aggravated. They also have kayaking classes at the center and since the launch is pretty much a one boat at a time deal, there could be conflicts between the public and the classes that they are trying to conduct. Both fairly reasonable explanations in my book. Why the center is not open until dusk is another question, as is the issue of where to launch now that the launch sites have been cut in half. I'm dead certain that budget constraints are the stock answer but I didn't get into that.

So it looks like we use the lone canoe and kayak launch on the south side of the chain of lakes. When I talked to the county park people they did say the boat landing above the Peltier dam would be open in a couple of weeks and that they were extending the bike trail into the park. All good stuff. It would just be nice if the hours of the nature center could be extended and kayakers and canoeists could launch there, but for now I guess we'll take what we can get. As the nesting Canadian goose in the photo can attest, its still a pretty remote feeling spot even though it sits smack dab in the densely populated seven county metro area.


Ranger Bob said...

It sounds, from your account, that the information desk jockey could have spared everyone a lot of aggravation had she done a better job of explaining the policy.

(I'm presuming you did not initiate the contact with guns blazing, determined to hold her personally responsible for silly decisions made far up the food chain. Some folks do, but you've never seemed the type.)

What you're pointing out is a long-standing challenge in park management. Frontline public contact employees occupy the most important position in any park, but typically, we stick the least experienced people in those jobs and pay them less than anyone else on the staff.

Training and supervision becomes all the more important under such circumstances, but field-level supervisors are often overtaxed themselves, and many (I have to admit) are not especially good at what they do, either.

DaveO said...

Nope, the desk person did fine. She just didn't have any answers. The potential was there (as you could likely tell from yesterdays almost verbatium account) to become sarcastic and confrontational but whats the point? Seems like reasonable excuses but I just wish it could be worked out to use the damn thing while construction is underway.