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.
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Subject: [gcpba] Grand County, UT singles out river users for road maintenance fees From: "Tubby" <>
Date: Fri, November 18, 2011 2:09 am
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?
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,
Assistant Road Supervisor
Grand County Road Dept.
dvaughn [at] grand.utah.gov