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Old 06-21-2009   #1
Silt, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1996
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 75
Crazy Colorado - Grizzley Creek Section

Took the family out today for a run from Grizzly creek to South Canyon. I am used to it being a busy stretch but what I saw today baffles me. First at the put in the forest service is limiting the private boaters to use of the stairs ramp only from the hours of 11:30 - 2:00 (not exactly sure of the hours) Only commercials can use it. OK but when there are 10 privates waiting to go that sure doesnt help the situation, but be aware of it. What really got me going; I was helping a boat down the ramp when, according to my wife, one of the forest service workers told her we had to move my boat and get my vehical moved. Apparently he then yanked my boat off the trailer onto the ground. Dont touch someones boat without permission! I was not happy but took a deep breath knowing I would soon be enjoying a float, which I did. (there were 2 other forest service workers there that were very understanding and helpful) So onto the river, great flow, good rollers all the way to South Canyon.
While packing things up at the South Canyon ramp, a group of commercials from Whiterwater rafting came floating by, 3 rafts and 2 duckies, only problem; one of the duckies was empty and a girl was floating down the river. A gentleman on shore waiting to load his one person cat, got his rig out there and brought this girl to shore. Great job on his part. Another duckie grabbed the empty duckie and all was ok. I couldnt believe this girl swam as far as she did without the guides helping.
So, should I call the forest service and complain? What about calling Whitewater rafting? They have been a local company that has done me right many times. Should I chalk it up to just another day on the river? I have been boating for many years and it just seems to get crazier and crazier.

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Old 06-21-2009   #2
Andy H.'s Avatar
Wheat Ridge, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1995
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 2,910
Working the boatramps in Glenwood Canyon can be a really stressful situation for the rangers and I usually try to cut them some slack, however this seems over the line. Did you get the name of the USFS ranger who pulled your boat off the trailer? If so, you should be able to report him.

Now as for access to the river at Grizzley...

Let me guess - all this hassle going on at Grizzley Creek and they probably had the boat ramp blocked off so you couldn't back your trailer down and quickly launch your raft. But then they want all the privates to carry our boats down the steps but they complain because we take a long time getting our boats launched?

My theory is that the USFS is dealing with the situation of congestion by making it even more congested so it will be too inconvenient to easily get on the water there if you're a private boater. They apparently want us to go elsewhere rather than enjoying our recreational resource by launching at Grizzley Creek. Last year I looked into this policy and was told their goal of the limitations was to decrease the potential of accidents with bikepath users and that there had been a couple of "near misses." Another reason mentioned was "partying at the boatramp" (this was not mentioned officially in the documents listed below as a reason for the restrictions). I went out there in the spring last year and noticed that despite the near misses, they didn't have any signs on the bikepath or at the top of the boatramp (to be visible to drivers coming back up) warning that there's a trail crossing there. I've noticed that many other jurisdictions with bikepaths have discovered how to put up signs up warning of trail crossings but this technology apparently eludes the USFS. There were also no signs at the bottom of the ramp stating that alcohol is not allowed, etc. These are a couple of possible answers to the problems that don't limit our ability to use our river.

So I haven't been out there yet this year (the policy's working...). Did you notice any signs warning bikers to that they were entering a congested area and to dismount before entering the boat ramp area (not just the ones to the west of the boatramp before the switchbacks)? Any signs to remind drivers coming up the boatramp to watch for traffic on the bikepath? Any notices of the rules on alcohol posted near the boat ramp?

The Rulemaking was Flawed WRT Private Boaters:

Here's the real kicker. If you examine the notices that they put out in associated with the rule changes, the January 8, 2008, "Environmental Assessment, Capacity Limit for Commercial Use of the Shoshone Rapids Section of the Colorado River in Glenwood Canyon," (EA) prepared by the Eagle/Holy Cross Ranger District, and the undated "Decision Notice & Finding of No Significant Impact, Capacity Limit for Commercial Use of the Shoshone Rapids Section of the Colorado River in Glenwood Canyon" (FONSI) for the rationale leading to the prime-time private rafters closure you'll find that:

1) Public notice of the revisions to the management plan did not mention the potential of any impacts to private boaters (it refers to "Commercial Use" in the title) other than revision of user day limits for commercial outfitters. It may be for this reason that private boaters didn't attend the scoping meetings or provide comment prior to enactment of the new rules. the only folks that provided input ahead of time were commercials.

2) In addition, the EA is related primarily related to revision of commercial user day limits for commercial outfitters; mention of the prime-time closure is buried in the text on Page 8, under the heading “non-key issues." Nothing about private boater impacts in the title, nothing in the table of contents, no one would see it unless they read the whole document and were looking for it.

The USFS was getting a lot of flak from private boaters at the time and was probably just hunkering down waiting for folks to get used to it and quit complaining. I don't think there were any restrictions to commercials, however other than some relatively minor changes in user-day allotments.

It may be possible to get the regulations reopened and revised as the potential to impact private boaters (as a stakeholder group) was never made public.

This is really a downer for floating Glenwood Canyon, especially if you trailer your boat. Its one thing if you've got a paddle raft but for a rigged heavy boat on a trailer, it essentially takes this recreational resource off the table.

Nothing in the world is more yielding and gentle than water. Yet it has no equal for conquering the resistant and tough. The flexible can overcome the unbending; the soft can overcome the hard. - Lao Tse
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Old 06-21-2009   #3
Eagle, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1980
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 16
Grizzely Creek

Launched yestereday around 1pm and we carried the oar frame and boat around the post on the ramp and the rangers were listening to music on a portablle system. No comment from them. They said it had been busy.
Can't imagine what it is like with 3 school buses and 60 rangers waiting for their ride.
All need to be patient.
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Old 06-21-2009   #4
tmaggert's Avatar
Carbondale, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2002
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 100
I did the same trip today and didn't have any problems. We launched right around 1:15 (just after the Whitewater 1:00 trip). I am a guide for Whitewater (but was on my own boat today) and if it was the 1:00 trip, the two people on duckies were guides. Actually, they both were male but one has long hair. If it wasn't the 1:00 trip let me know and I'll talk with the owners. We take pride in our customer service and that is unacceptable.

I am not trying to defend the ranger or USFS but I want to present my experience both as a private boater and a commercial guide.

The Grizzly Creek put-in is a shit show on the weekends as there are many private and commercial trips. The rangers are trying to keep traffic flowing through there and the easiest is to have the vehicles moved ASAP. If you are busy doing other things your car is blocking the way for others.

Basically they want you to drive up, drop off the boat and move your vehicle. That is what I did today. We drove up, everyone got out and we grabbed the raft from the trailer, then we moved the car out of the way. Then after the car was moved we pumped our raft using the USFS pump, which was paid for by the local commercial companies to aid in keeping the ramp clear.

While you may think allowing people to back down the ramp would speed up the pace, it doesn't. It is quite the opposite. Not many people can back a trailer down there (me included). Also, to get into position to back down can block the road. Plus there can be many pedestrians (other rafters, people using the bike path and sometimes a tour bus full of tourists) having a vehicle and trailer trying to back down can be hazardous. They should move the pole next to the curb so you don't have to lift your boat over it.

On the ramps being 'segregated', I haven't seen that to be the case. If I am guiding or running a private boat the rangers always direct us to the best ramp. If the stairs are full they send us over to the ramp and vice-versa. The rangers might have given the commercial trip a little preference because they have 15 minutes from the time they pull in till all their boats are off the ramp. That is a regulation for their permit. Imagine if they kept all the privates to that too.

In my own opinion, the Grizzly ramp is efficient and the rangers are great people who only want everyone to have a great day on the river. When I am running as a guide or privately the rangers always help us unload our boats, pass out paddles, and launch boats. They'll even hold our rafts for us while the customers or other members of the party get in. Hell they have actually carried my cooler full of beer and ice down the ramp for us. I do have a small relationship with the rangers though. But that is just from talking to them when at the ramp.

I know all three of the rangers who were at the ramp today and if you would like their name(s) just let me know and I'll PM them to you. I'd rather not ruin all of their names by posting them here.
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Old 06-21-2009   #5
Roaring Fork Valley, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1994
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 112
I heard early last year, a young kid was almost hit on a bike by a car pulling out of the launch ramp. His father was an attorney in Glednwood and started the litigation process. That is why the forest service put the post there, to limit access and future accidents.
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Old 06-21-2009   #6
Silt, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1996
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 75
re: the swimmer

I am not sure, but it happened in South Canyon about 3:00. Like I said, Whitewater has been good, I was suprised by what I saw. I hope it was a guide.

re: Grizzly

I dont want to rag on the rangers that were there today (other than taking my boat off my trailer in a not so gentle manner), they are helpful and keep things moving. However, it seems each year there are more stipulations making it just a little more frustrating for the private boater. We were clearly told that we could not use the ramp, that it was for a private coming in at noon. I agree that it isnt always necessary to back our trailers down. One ranger did state that if you get there before 11:00 or after 4:00 you can use the ramp, not sure if she meant back down with trailer or use it period. I will talk to usfs tomorrow for clarification. I like Andy H. suggestion about signs. There are none posted that I noticed. Bikes are part of the problem as well. It does seem that the usfs needs to do more planning to include private boaters and all users of the area. I am curious, doe commercials pay a per head fee to use the ramp or just a yearly fee? or no fee?

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Old 06-22-2009   #7
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 480
"I heard early last year, a young kid was almost hit on a bike by a car pulling out of the launch ramp. His father was an attorney in Glednwood and started the litigation process."

It's all the lawyers fault as ususal.
Like it or not, all of us are the result of a sexual act.
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Old 06-22-2009   #8
tmaggert's Avatar
Carbondale, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2002
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 100
Just an update; I confirmed the two on the duckies were guides just playing around. They were two males and the one floating had long hair.

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