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Old 06-18-2013   #11
Roy's Avatar
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1993
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 682
Maintaining closure on weekends when they're not logging is just absolute horseshit!

This is supposed to be public land and the Canyon Lakes district acts like it's their private reserve. They always have. Are they completely unaccountable? Who do they report to?

I've a suggestion to keep you all occupied...learn to swim!
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Old 06-18-2013   #12
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 772
This sucks. I think in the past the concern hasn't been for Long Draw Road but the side roads. Either way I hope something can be worked out.

Last I heard the golden ticket didn't work anymore. Just more reason to be pissed.

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Old 06-18-2013   #13
Edmond, Oklahoma
Paddling Since: 1988
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 55
fun log

make friends with the loggers. their trucks can carry a ton of paddlers when nobodys lookin. they are empty on the way back up.
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Old 06-18-2013   #14
ACC's Avatar
dropzone, Colorado
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 845
Ugh! I was getting excited for a good Big South season. I would like to help in the advocacy, although have been quite busy with the day job lately.

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Old 06-18-2013   #15
Mad Scientist/Creeker
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 803
Robfather - you might be onto something there! Log rides for everyone!

Clayden - give me a shout if you do get some free time
Evan Stafford
Cub boater: "What do the spiders mean?" Old fart boater: "Trust your intuition." CRCII
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Old 06-18-2013   #16
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2004
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 3,097
This really sucks.

I spent a lot of time working with the forest service staff on big south access. Unfortunately, they did not budge and inch.

My observations... the forest service takes the lowest common denominator approach. They don't have the staff or the funds to do manage things like open on a weekend, then close, or do things that make sense to us. Its just more work for them. I'd guess 95% of the time the pine bettle removal would be no issue for long draw travelers, but its easier for the forest service to do a blanket closure than it is to actively manage it for the publics best interests. Sucks, but thats reality.

Also the forest service is not sypathetic to kayakers use of long draw. They know we can go in from the source, hike in from barnes meadow, or hike in from the bottom like other users. They counter that we do have access, just not the kind we want. Its incredibly frustrating to know that water company trucks drive long draw everyday, but we can't.

I don't think going to the forest service will yield any results. I brought them loads of supporting information to open the gate early, and they didn't budge. Of course things sometimes change, but I would not expect impassioned kayakers to get any different results with the current staff. Perhaps a new approach is needed.

My take is that kayakers have no leverage and no power here. One option that I partially went down was to get Colorado government involved. I contacted colorado representative BJ Nikkel (I think thats her name, but its been a while) and noted that the Forest Service's management procedures were keeping Forest Users out of public lands unneccesarily. I think bringing in some support might help. I never got a meeting between the forest service staff and myself and BJ Nikkel, but that was the next step in my mind. I think kayakers need to find some supporters in city, county, and or state government to perhaps help the push.

On the flip side... my understanding is that the canyon lakes ranger district was hammered by fire last year, and pine bettle kill is a significant hazard to future fires. I think that the forest service's #1 mission in their minds is to try and do whatever they can within budget now to minimize fire risk. In their minds, if 50-100 kayakers miss the big south so they can mitigate fire risk for all users and for the entire poudre canyon, thats probably a tradeoff that makes sense to them. It sucks for kayakers though.

One other thought is that when approaching these folks, you probably need some political and communication skills. It might make our position worse if a bunch of random paddlers show up and try to bro-brah browbeat them into opening the gate.

I do think its fair for paddlers to call up the forest service and voice their disapproval of the road closure though. If the forest service gets enough pressure, they may reconsider.
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Old 06-18-2013   #17
Mad Scientist/Creeker
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 803
Great info to know Ian and getting some representatives on our side sounds like a path we should be taking. I think you're analysis is exactly correct on their approach and considering budget implications etc obviously makes sense to them. I just got off the phone with the Forest Supervisor and found out there is actually still a chance the road will open! It's basically up to when the loggers can/want to get in there. I guess in there contract they only have to give the FS 72 hours of notification before they want to start logging and his decision is to have it closed while they are logging due to various dangers. He was worried about people camping in there for days at a time and then getting stuck cause he only would have 72 hours to clear the area.

He was super amenable and was glad that I reminded him of how paddlers view the run/the timing of it and remembered talking to you about the same stuff multiple times before and the gate opening earlier (even your last name which he was super proud of). He also took my suggestion of trying to find a way of imposing a limit on camping days or even of just opening it to day use only so it would be easy to close the gate and not lock anybody in when the time came. I made it clear that a pretty large user group would be very very appreciative if it was just open for even the first couple of weekends in July and that seemed to give him something to chew on in terms of opening for a short period of time if at all possible.

I don't think a few more amiable and PROFESIONAL phone calls and/or emails voicing something similar would hurt and would probably help him feel good about opening it in July, even if just to day use and even if just for a couple of weeks. The FS number there is 970-295-6700 and his name and email are Kevin Atchley

If you make a phone call or write an email please, please do not be an asshole here, it's just not a good tactic in these kind of negotiations and they really aren't trying to frustrate us/drive us crazy with this stuff on purpose, they're just trying to do their job and if we can help inform them in a friendly manner with what we'd like to see happen, it appears, in this situation at least, we may just get it. Again the main points to hit on are

1) The greatness of the run
2) The timing of the run (the first couple of weekends the gate usually opens are generally the best
3) The possibility of allowing just day use or only limited camping days to make clearing the area easier

Don't take up too much of his time or flood him with a ton of this stuff but I do think a few more calls and emails would probably help the cause for this year at least.
Evan Stafford
Cub boater: "What do the spiders mean?" Old fart boater: "Trust your intuition." CRCII
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Old 06-18-2013   #18
Owner: Class 5 Carvings
Paul the Kayaker's Avatar
The Fort, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 498
Maybe its time to start a cheap chopper outfit in foco, summer kayak drops, winter Cameron's drops, RMNP rescues... Anyone work for a Heli crew? Just kidding, but seriously maybe we can talk them into a weekend shuttle service where no cars are locked up there, sounds like a descent Sat/Sun business opp for the month of July. Park at the take out and get bussed up there for like 20 bucks... I'd rent a 15 person van and trailer to make it happen. But then when am I going to boat it? This whole gate issue has always been a pain in the ass, but at least there's access at all. Move up to WY where there are no roads to anywhere. Anyway, good work everyone, lets email and show there's plenty of support for it being open.
P the K
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Old 06-18-2013   #19
BruceB's Avatar
Fort Collins, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1986
Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 170
Weekends are possible

This is for a road in adjacent Routt National Forest, right over the pass:

"FS Road 543 is closed Monday -Friday between Keystone and FS Road 512 from 7:00 am-12:00pm and 1:00pm-6:00 pm through Dec. 1 due to hazard tree removal."

So weekends may be an option.

Good luck Big Southerners and watch for new wood in the last few drops before the highway. I forget which spot but there was a new tree across a good line on Sunday.
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Old 06-18-2013   #20
Mad Scientist/Creeker
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 803
Shoot! The email should read

Please use the correct email!

Evan Stafford
Cub boater: "What do the spiders mean?" Old fart boater: "Trust your intuition." CRCII
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