Fossil Creek Kayak Access and Management Plan - Mountain Buzz

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Old 01-04-2017   #1
chandler, Arizona
Paddling Since: 2005
Join Date: Apr 2011
Posts: 5
Fossil Creek Kayak Access and Management Plan

Please give your comments again to Coconino National Forest for the long term plan for Fossil Creek Management. These comments are due by January 13, 2007. They are currently planning to install Plan E, but they are open to suggestions and considerations in this plan and others. The largest issue for boaters is that Plan E plans to stop all waterplay at the 18-20 foot waterfall (the beginning of the section that most people kayak on Fossil Creek). They need to reconsider this decision or make special permits (consideration) for kayakers as running this waterfall is one of the highlights of this run.
In addition, the forest road access for high flow, run-off events at Fossil Creek and on the Verde River have been dramatically decreased in the past few years as the Coconino National Forest regularly closes these roads limiting access.
I have notified American Whitewater and they will participate in contacting Coconino National Forest to help voice our concerns.

Options for voicing your concerns:
1. Letter- I have attached the letter below that I will send to Coconino National Forest. I would be happy to add your name (and address), if you do not have time to send your own letter or comments.
2. Attend Meetings- Payson on January 5, 2017 or Camp Verde on January 9, 2017. I hope we can get boaters to attend these meetings.
3. Contact the Fossil Creek project coordinator- Marcos Roybal 928-203-2915
4. In person at the Red Rock Ranger District.
5. Email [email protected]

You may review the plans and additional information at the Fossil Creek Comprehensive River Management Plan (CRMP)

Thank you,

Bill Langhofer
[email protected]

Coconino National Forest

In regards to the comment period for Fossil Creek’s long term management plan. It appears that the Forest Service is planning to have long term operations around Plan E. These comments and concerns are related to the current issues affecting whitewater boating in the area and concerns with Plan E.
I am a whitewater kayaker and outdoorsman and I have regularly enjoyed the boating and recreational opportunities on Fossil Creek for over 11 years. I have kayaked above the springs on high flow events during spring snow melt, and have boated nearly every week of the year, and every section of the creek. Kayakers have been enjoying Fossil Creek during high flow events long before the flow was restored to the creek and the dam was decommissioned. In addition, the long term plan for Fossil Creek also affects boating, rafting, and canoeing on the Verde River as the road to Childs (FR 708 to 502) has been closed repeatedly during rain, snow events. These rain and snow events are also the high flow run off events that many boaters prefer, while enjoying the Verde River.
The most commonly kayaked section of Fossil Creek is the 18-20 foot waterfall (at the end of Lewis/Waterfall trail) to the Irving power plant location. All sections of Fossil Creek have been kayaked from the above the springs at high flow, all the way to the Verde River. The section below Purple Mountain is rarely run due to decreasing gradient and large amount of wood in this area.

Kayaking should be considered for special designation as an Outstandingly Remarkable Value (ORV) on Fossil Creek for the following reasons.
1. This is one of the only creeks that has continuously boatable flows year round in the entire southwest. Kayakers have traveled from all over the southwest and the US to enjoy this whitewater gem. I have even boated with a kayaker from New Zealand on this creek.
2. This creek is one of the few in the nation that is generally considered safe for intermediate boaters and yet still challenging for more experienced kayakers due to a combination of the clear water, consistent low volume flow (42 CFS), and steep gradient (185 feet per mile).
3. This is the only reliably accessible travertine creek in the United States that is regularly kayaked.
4. Kayakers have the unique ability to reach areas of the stream for cleanup that would otherwise require swimmers to traverse the entire length of the creek. Kayakers have removed truckloads of trash from Fossil Creek in the past and will continue to help maintain the river in the future provided they are granted the privilege to access the area. Approximately 1,000 pounds of trash have been removed from the creek in the past 10 years, via clean up events and regular removal while boating.
5. Kayaking is a very low impact sport on the fossil creek environment. Kayakers do not generally set up a barbecue and spend the day in one spot on the creek. In addition, kayaking does not affect sedimentation, bank erosion, and botanical health as we do not wade around in the water for hours on the banks of the creek. The typical kayaker spends around 2-3 hours kayaking the “Classic Section”, and I have run this section in as little as 20 minutes.
6. Kayakers truly practice and understand a “leave no trace” philosophy.

Issues with Plan E and current problems affecting boating on Fossil Creek and the Verde River:

1. The current plan E aims to close waterplay at the end of the “Waterfall Trail” soon to be called the Lewis Trail. This would prevent us from boating one of the highlights of this area, unless kayakers were given a special use permit for this area. This waterfall is vital to the enjoyment of the “Classic Section” of the river for kayakers. This has been the largest waterfall that many boaters have and will ever run. This waterfall provides a rare opportunity to practice running larger waterfalls in a safe environment. The pool at the bottom of the waterfall provides practice for wet exists, roll practice, and the opportunity to paddle under the falls and practice waterfall escape techniques. We would propose a special use permit for kayakers to continue to enjoy this area.
2. It is vital that FR 502 has unrestricted access to Childs and that we have access to Fossil Creek on high flow events (On numerous high flow events access to both Fossil Creek and the Verde have been restricted with closure of the FR 708 ). We would propose better options for accessing these areas or special permits for kayakers to continue to enjoy these areas during rain and high flow events:
a. The 502 and 708 roads are vital to river access on the Verde River. This access point is required for boaters traveling from Beasley Flats to Childs, and boaters traveling into the Wild and Scenic area of the Verde River system.
b. I have had fellow kayakers that had permits to enter Fossil Creek and were turned away since the FR 708 was closed. Many times the recording for Fossil Creek was not corrected causing these boaters to drive up to Camp Verde with a permit, only to find out that the road was closed.
3. Opportunities to boat on Fossil have been dramatically limited with the difficulty in obtaining a permit and the dramatically limited access to the Fossil Creek area as the road is commonly closed every time it rains or snows in the area. We would propose the forest service setting aside 10 permits per day for the use of kayakers.

Thank you for allowing us to continuing kayaking this river with the future generations.

Bill Langhofer
[email protected]

One of the numerous clean up events on Fossil Creek!!

Kayaking the left slot of the Irving Power Plant Rapid.

One of the numerous waterfalls on the section between the 20 foot waterfall and the Irving Power plant section “Classic Section”

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Old 01-13-2017   #2
AW-Evan's Avatar
Fort Collins, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: May 2014
Posts: 122
Nice work Bill!!!
Evan Stafford American Whitewater - Communications and Outreach
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