Bailey Put in change and landowner issues!
Just got off the phone with the guy that runs the rawhide fishing property at the Bailey put in.
The town of bailey, the owner of the fly fishing property and the folks that run the property, are in the process of developing an improved kayak put in at McGraw Park in Bailey. McGraw park is the put in we used for bailey fest last year, and is behind the feedstore and ATF liquor store that you pass on the right to go to the old put in downstream. This year they will complete a new parking lot on public land and will install public bathrooms. Last year they put in some rock steps to get down to the river. The owner of the commonly used put in property just downstream of the culverts wants boaters to stop using his property to put in, and start using the McGraw park put in. The owner is willing to let us use his property this year as we transition to the new Park put in, but starting next year, they will not allow kayakers to park on their road or put in on their land. I think we as a community should start voluntarily using the new put in now, and leave the old put in alone out of courtesy. Bailey is a popular run and in my mind a public put in with parking and public bathrooms is a better overall solution than an ad hoc put in on private property with some land ownwer conflicts. The good news is that we will have a recognized public put in, the bad news is that we pissed off the landonwers and shot ourselves in the foot in the process.
The current owner bought the property that is commonly used as the bailey put in from the farmers union 4-5 years ago. The owner thought he would allow kayak access on his property and see how things turned out. Over the years there have been several indicents that cumulatively pissed the owners off to the point that they don't want to have kayakers putting in on their land anymore.
Trash and urination on the ground at the put in were cited as one issue. Kayakers modifying the banks to improve kayak put in spots where they had done bank stabilization work was another issue cited. A kayaker took a crap in the dirt at the put in last year and didn't clean it up and that really pissed them off. Perhaps the final straw was a large group of kayakers on this past mother's day weekend. The owner was up to fish the property. A large group of kayakers floated by as they were fishing. Most kayakers went to the other side of the river to give the fishermen some space. One kayaker saw a boof rock and busted out a boof fairly close the fisherman and landed in the spot in the river that they were trying to fish in. Multiple boaters after the first hit the boof rock all splashing down in close proximity to the fisherman. The owner's comment was that there are 1000 rocks upstream and a million rocks downstream, why in the hell would these guys have to boof the one rock next to them and scare off the fish? They also wondered why the kayakers didn't follow the standard river ettiquite of being quiet and giving the fishermen a wide berth when passing.
As I talked to the guy that runs the place, its obvious that he is friendly, open minded, and willing to work with boaters. He even offered to help do river improvements upstream of the culverts if we run into problems with the upper put in. He was very fair, and I feel like he is totally justified in his concerns. If I let someone use my land, and they crapped on my driveway, pissed on my lawn, left trash around, and didn't show me some respect on common ground I would be pissed too. We are very lucky that we have a reasonable access spot upstream and that this issue didn't shut down access to bailey. I apologized for the boating community at large and acknowledged that these kind of issues are unacceptable. The reality is that a few bad apples are spoiling the bunch for all of us.
After talking to this guy I was royally pissed. Colorado boaters have enough problems with pissy landowners. Now we have gone and made a mess with what I consider to be pretty friendly and accomodating landowners. Some folks just don't get it, and you are in danger of screwing it up for all of us.
From here on out, please observe the following to keep bailey access and public relations going to ensure that we can paddle it in the future.
1) Use McGraw Park put in. Its behind the feed lot store with some parking both upstream and downtream of the store. Do not park in the feed lot store spaces. The feed lot store guy is angry at the world and will likely hassle you. Kindly tell him you are parking on public land at the park and that this put in is OK for kayakers to use. Ignore him if he persists. Resist the urge to tell him off (its difficult, I know).
2) Give fisherman along the rawhide property some respect. Be quiet and courteuous. Float on the other side of the river from them. Don't talk to them unless they talk to you, they don't want you to scare the fish. A nod or a smile is good enough. Lastly, don't boof on their fishing hole, there are tons of boofs downstream.
3) Use the put in and take out bathrooms. If you have to urinate while on the river, do so in the river, not on the banks. Don't leave #2 in a pile. Take care of your shit!
4) Don't litter anywhere on the run. Get some karma points and pick up trash if you see it.
5) If you are with boaters who don't know or observe these basic points, give them a heads up. We are only as stong as our weakest link.
So there you have it. We just lost a good put in because as a community we couldn't keep our shit together. Thats just sad. We got lucky this time because we have other put in options. Next time we might not be so lucky. Please do your best to improve these types of situations in the future.