Ruby/Horsethief thoughts? - Mountain Buzz

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Old 06-24-2010   #1
Frisco, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1985
Join Date: Jun 2010
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Ruby/Horsethief thoughts?

Hello all, I'm a journalist in Frisco. Used to work for the Summit Daily and recently started a new online community news web site, Summit County Citizens Voice. I just posted a story on the BLM's plan to change management in the Ruby-Horsethief Canyons area and I'm looking for some more input for a followup story. Looking forward to hearing from anyone that thoughts on the subject.

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Old 06-25-2010   #2
SimpleMan's Avatar
Fort Collins, Colorado
Paddling Since: '05
Join Date: Dec 2009
Posts: 394
I am assuming you are talking about the rumor that they are going to regulate that stretch of river as in permits etc? For me it's a double edged sword. Permits keep non-boaters out, thus reducing some of the danger associated with unexperienced and unprepared boaters on the water. At the same time, this is a pretty tame stretch of water we're talking about here, and the fact that you can drive up and float it whenever you want is super awesome. I hate to see government tighten the reins on anything, especially backcountry access. I guess my final two cents is the old 'slippery slope' argument. If we start requiring permits on every stretch of river where dumb rednecks and renters can go out and get drunk and float, there won't be much left pretty soon.

An analogy to offer. When I was a kid, Horsetooth Mountain park and the entire reservoir was managed by another entity. I was a kid, so I don't remember who exactly. It was a place where you could go and hike, bike, boat, and water ski with relative freedom. There were rangers, but they were the give-you-information type of rangers, not the badge give-you-a-ticket type of rangers. Then in the early 90s the park started being managed by the county. That means Sheriff's department. Suddenly it was $8 to park at the trail head and hike. It was suddenly $4 to park and have a picnic lunch. They closed off two, very popular climbing spots. They began ticketing people for swimming off their boats without vests and swimming anywhere in the reservoir except the swim beaches. In short, the more regulation made what used to be a super friendly, beautiful place to recreate into a place where you were paying to use public lands, paying to park, and looking over your shoulder every minute for a badge wearing ranger. Three years ago I took my powerboat up there three times to relax. I was shook down and checked and smelled each time by those boys. Stopped going.

More regulation ruined Horsetooth mountain park. Myself and my friends never go there any more. So sad. Let's not do the same thing to Ruby.
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Old 06-25-2010   #3
Frisco, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1985
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Thanks! I think it's more than a rumor. The BLM is probably going to pick one of the alts they've presented, or a combination thereof, unless somebody comes up with a better idea. That's why, IMO, folks who know that stretch of river should try and comment. Sometimes (often) the users have better ideas than the agency managers.
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Old 06-25-2010   #4
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1999
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I agree w the "double edge sword" idea. My thoughts: It IS a nice section to introduce new people/kids to the water, it does make a nice prequel to Westwater Canyon, I do NOT like seeing knuckle heads on the water giving real boaters a bad wrap by not taking care of the river and its banks. I wonder what will happen to the population of users if we have to score two consecutive permits (one for Ruby then time the second for Westy). I do hope some thought is put into this as I enjoy Ruby and Westy 2-3 times a year.
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Old 06-25-2010   #5
Join Date: May 2005
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Having grown up in junc town, ruby was always right out the back door. I loved being able to pull up and float it without a permit, but I hate the inexperienced people leaving trash, taking campsites that we were signed up for and runining the run for the rest of us. I dont think it needs to be permited, but a fee that would keep someone there to regulate fire pans, groovers, and campsites might not be a bad idea.

There has to be another option than a full on permit system.
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Old 06-25-2010   #6
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Longmont, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1986
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I have been going down that stretch for many years, and love the solitude and scenery. BLM told us 2010 was the last year to run w/o a permit - so no rumor.

I talked to BLM rangers on Ruby-Horsethief several times over the past few years. I understand why they think they need to do something. I can't remember the actual number of people they told me who float Ruby-Horsethief, but it is MANY thousands per year.

I believe they want to get some control over the usage. It will hurt to find out all the permits are gone for a time I want to run it, but hope they can work out the kinks and make the system user-friendly.
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Old 06-25-2010   #7
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Durango, Colorado
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What about doing something like they do on the Montezuma Creek section of the San Juan? You need a permit, but it's free, and there are no restrictions on numbers, so you just call up the office and get it. It basically ensures that boaters contact the BLM and read the regs and have a toilet system and so on. If you have a permit for Sand Island onward it's no difficulty to get an additional permit for the upper section.
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Old 06-25-2010   #8
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camp poaching


We do RH evrey now and then, including once the last two years. There is currently a sign up sheet for campsites. Both times, our camp at blackrock that we had registered for was poached. The second time, we shared the camp, because the family in ours had had their camp poached. Interestingly, I had just spoken to BLM Rangers on the river above black rock about the possible regulations. They said it was primarily about camp poaching and indicated there had been more than a few violent interchanges.

BLM is in a public input phase and have several options. If interested, look it up and register your opinion. Personally, I would rather pay my fees than deal with camp poachers.
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Old 06-25-2010   #9
Yampasippi, Colorado
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 80
The BLM is taking comments now on the management plan. Don't speculate, just go here: Ruby Horsethief and look at the comparison in alternatives yourself. They range from no action (not gonna happen) to self-issued mandatory permit system (as opposed to the self-issue voluntary system that is in place now) to partial self-issued (Mon-Thur) to full on Field Office-issued permits 7 days a week in the summer months.

In my opinion, there is no doubt a mandatory permit system of some kind needs to go into effect for the summer months. The voluntary registration recorded 18,000 camping user days on that stretch last year (and not everybody signs that register), which averages out to around 50 per night, 365 days a year. July averages something like 127 camping user nights per day, which is huge.
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Old 06-25-2010   #10
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Vail, CO
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I too think it is a double edged sword. But the good in this far outweighs the bad. There are simply too many people floating this stretch without firepans and groovers. The Rangers have been saying for a number of years that the behavior of folks down there is driving the wildlife away from the River. They are CONSTANTLY finding human waste, tampons, trash, etc...etc...This is just unacceptable.

No matter what is decided, there is no doubt that it's going to have a positive impact on the banks, the wildlife, and the individual boaters' experiences in the canyon. Sure it might mean the end of an era...but progress is not always easy to see immediately.
Wear shoes in the Safety first, then teamwork.
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