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Old 11-18-2011   #1
 
Andy H.'s Avatar
 
Wheat Ridge, Colorado
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Grand County UT proposing road use fees for private boaters

FYI folks, this was on the GCPBA and UtahRafters email lists this morning.

I'm torn about the precedent that it sets, and also realize the need for a small, rural county to maintain many miles of roads boaters, and few others, use to get to the river. For me the question is whether a buck a trip per person be worth avoiding the extra wear and tear on your vehicle due to the crappy roads getting to/from Cisco & Westwater?

If you contact Mr. Vaughn please be civil and reasoned.

Thanks to Tubby for putting it up.

-AH

---------------------------- Original Message ----------------------------
Subject: [gcpba] Grand County, UT singles out river users for road maintenance fees From: "Tubby" <>
Date: Fri, November 18, 2011 2:09 am
To:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------

This post doesn't apply directly to Grand Canyon but the issue does (or will) apply to most members of this group. One small ancillary comment: it is interesting Grand County, UT thinks commercial boatmen and drivers have no impact thus there is no need to charge for them, only the paying passengers and non-commercial boaters.

Thanks to Herm Hoops for the letter below from the Grand County Road Dept. asst. supervisor to all Westwater commercial outfitters outlining their proposal to collect road maintenance fees from paying passengers. The fee would be applied to each non-commercial user as well. This is a potential Pandora's Box for non-commercial river users in Utah.

Ignoring the weak and undocumented explanation for the proposal given by the county, I believe river users are being singled out simply because there exists an easy way to collect funds from them - the federal permit system administered by the BLM for boating Westwater Canyon. This is only the tip of the iceberg: access routes to most of the federally permitted rivers in Utah such as Deso, Lodore, the Yampa, and the Green side of Cataract all cross county roads. If Grand County gets away with this, what do you think the other counties in UT are going to do? If counties in Utah get away with this, what do you think counties in AZ, CO, ID, WY, CA, etc. are going to do?

--Tubby

The Letter:

Quote:
The Grand County Road Department is suggesting a $1 per paying Westwater customer surcharge for all of those companies with Westwater trips. This money would then be placed in a fund and accumulated until here were enough funds to do work on the Westwater, Westwater shortcut, or the Cisco Boat Ramp Roads.

The Grand County Road Department would be responsible for setting priorities on when, where and how the money would be spent. There would be years when nothing is done to allow the money to accumulate to pay for more expensive projects. We would report to you yearly the amount collected, the fund balance, and any upcoming projects. Upon agreeing to this fee we would work together to come up with a method of collection of the moneys in the least costly manner for you.

We do not receive any sales tax and normally do not receive property tax funds. Most funds to maintain the roads are distributed from the State Gas Tax and some mineral lease funds via the Special Service Transportation District. Other users on these roads would include Westwater Farm, who we have a road agreement with covering extraordinary use of the road, and a three second home residences off of the main Westwater Road. The Cisco Boat Ramp Road has some grazing access and the ranch beyond the ramp itself. The Westwater Shortcut Road has no other major users for its paved portion. The Westwater and Cisco roads have a total of 5.2 miles of the Kokopelli Trail on them.

Our estimates indicate about 95% of the traffic on these three roads is from Westwater users, the majority of which are not Grand County residents, the only equitable way of recovering the cost of this usage is this fee. We realize that those of you located in Utah do purchase gas in Grand County, but that is not factored into how the County is allocated these funds. The formula is based 5O% on population and 50% on weighted mileage of roads maintained. So, the only way the gas you buy factors into the equation is with the total amount of State taxes collected in the entire state. lt is not fair to the local residents to take the gas tax money and spend it on roads they use very little.

lf you agree to this proposal we will request the BLM to petition the Recreation Advisory Council (RAC) to add this fee to private users also. lf they approve then both would start accumulating at the same time. We have no problem with you listing this on your customers receipt under Grand County Road Usage Surcharge. This way they know why they are being charged more money. This will hopefully end up with you paying less for wear and tear on your vehicles using these roads. We also believe that your customers would have a more pleasurable experience if these roads were kept in better condition.

Some possible projects could be:

1) Replacing the weight limited bridge on the Cisco Boat Ramp Road. A new bridge would eliminate the need for the bypass which is subject to flash flooding. We have been lucky that no one has been stranded by this situation that we know about.

2)Rebuild/repave that road from Cisco to the ramp.

3) Rebuild/repave the Westwater Shortcut Road from the Old Highway to its junction with the main Westwater Road.

These are all costly projects which have very little hope of being completed without additional funding. Please understand we are trying to do what is best for everyone with the limited funding available.
Any feedback would be appreciated,

David Vaughn
Assistant Road Supervisor
Grand County Road Dept.
dvaughn [at] grand.utah.gov
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Old 11-18-2011   #2
 
Jenks, Oklahoma
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a buck or so to improve the Cisco Road

would be fine with me, altho I was down it late this year and it seemed to be in pretty decent shape for the type of road it is.
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Old 11-18-2011   #3
 
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North Denver, Colorado
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The letter reads like the County is asking commercials if the fee is ok and then the fee will apply to non-commercials.

[QUOTE=
This post doesn't apply directly to Grand Canyon but the issue does (or will) apply to most members of this group. One small ancillary comment: it is interesting Grand County, UT thinks commercial boatmen and drivers have no impact thus there is no need to charge for them, only the paying passengers and non-commercial boaters. The Letter:[/QUOTE]

lf you agree to this proposal we will request the BLM to petition the Recreation Advisory Council (RAC) to add this fee to private users also. lf they approve then both would start accumulating at the same time. We have no problem with you listing this on your customers receipt under Grand County Road Usage Surcharge. This way they know why they are being charged more money. This will hopefully end up with you paying less for wear and tear on your vehicles using these roads.
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Old 11-18-2011   #4
 
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Boise, Idaho
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Is there a town that is visited or passed through as frequently as the road is used by boaters? Is there sales tax in that town? The county needs to recognize the dollars spent at businesses in the county and the impact that has to fund their needs or costs from having out-of-county visitors. I'd imagine the whitewater tourism dollars adds a nice chunk of change to their budget. Maybe that's where they should look to keep up their infrastructure that keeps their tourism industry healthy.

I've never been there, but Valley county in Idaho is always bitchin about how they have to pay out of their county tax-payer budgets to supply infrastructure and services to tourists from outside Valley county. That county would be dead without tourism.
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Old 11-18-2011   #5
 
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Wheat Ridge, Colorado
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jmcdannel View Post
Is there a town that is visited or passed through as frequently as the road is used by boaters? Is there sales tax in that town?
Not if you're you're coming from Colorado and I don't think there's much opportunity for folks coming from places you'd live in UT to spend tourist dollars. For the many folks from CO, the only place to spend a buck in Grand County UT on a Westy trip is at the Ranger station for a wag bag.

The fee will apply to commercial passengers and to all private boaters.

Its easy to have the knee-jerk reaction of "no more fees!" but road guy's definitely got a point. The cost impact of this would be the equivalent of one cheap on-river beer. It would raise the Westwater permit fee from $7 to a whopping $8 per person - still not a bad deal for the experience.

-AH
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Old 11-18-2011   #6
 
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Boise, Idaho
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I'm not usually opposed to fees if they go toward benefiting the people that pay them. Is there a parking fee for WW? What services are boaters provided for $7 each?

Sounds like I need to setup a beer stand somewhere along that road.
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Old 11-18-2011   #7
 
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San Juans, Colorado
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There is a great parking lot at both put in an take-out, w/ shitters. The boat ramp at the take out could be a little deeper, but it fine.

The road sucks, old asphalt on bad road base, lots of swimming pool sized potholes.

I'd pay $1 per trip for a better road and a new boat ramp for a Ruby/Horsethief take out. I drive over 100 miles to westy, so $1 is not a big deal in the grand scheme of things. I also think westwater is pretty well managed. The camp's are taken care of, the parking lots have either a live-in ranger or patrols, so things are generally safe.

Josh - This isn't idaho, I can back the trailer into the water and float off, and motor back on. None of those belayed log ride type ramps Both times I've been on the Boundary creek road it was in better shape the the Cisco(takeout) road. There is NOTHING around westwater, except a couple gas wells, a ranch, a survivalist compound, and a 'hills have eyes' type ghost town. Graded gravel roads are generally better then the pavement around westy. A beer stand would do well until the oppressive UT government saw money being made off of sin that wasn't lining their pockets.
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Old 11-19-2011   #8
 
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In this one case it seems to make sense. I would gladly pay a buck and see the road improve than just fall apart. However, i would rather see a $1 raised for "road donation" or something. I hate to see this set precedent for a giant can of pothole worms. This has got to be taken on differently so it doesnt become toll road hell to get to put ins nation wide. Cant you just see little toll booths popping up in the middle of nowhere? Lets just put a donation can at the ranger station. Hell, i'll throw a five in there if it avoids more legislature.
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Old 11-19-2011   #9
 
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I agree that paying a buck for better roads is a no brainer, but with a cap of 150 or 175 people per day, is it really going to add up to much? It seems they need to get the RHT crowd in on the fees to get anywhere.
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Old 11-19-2011   #10
 
Jackson, Wyoming
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Frank View Post
I agree that paying a buck for better roads is a no brainer, but with a cap of 150 or 175 people per day, is it really going to add up to much? It seems they need to get the RHT crowd in on the fees to get anywhere.
Agree. Honestly it seems like 5 would be a more realistic minimum to raise enough funds for meaningful work. Road work is very expensive. To be worth doing, it needs to be able to handle some short term improvement so people can see fruits of what they are paying for, and also create a fund that can eventually fund major work.
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