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We had a great weekend floating the Green river below the Flaming Gorge dam this weekend! We had been up there previously this season over memorial day for the top end of our Gates of Lodore trip and decided to come back to enjoy it more, and fish when the river wasn't so blown out. With this in mind I was able to secure one of the coveted reservation sites about 3 months ago for the night of 9/17 at Trails End camp (1st one available at that time, that far out). The wheels were in motion as we planned for my 9 year old to kayak the trip, a buddy from Austin would drive up to kayak it as well, my spouse, her friend (who had never been on an overnight river trip) and myself were floating the raft!

The weather was cool, and the dew was thick Saturday morning. We decided to take our time breaking camp to let some of the morning mist burn off. We had check the board at Little Hole the night prior, and our reservation was on the board! We were in good shape for a early afternoon launch! After shuttle and hitting the local fly shop we launched, and were pleasantly surprised at the difference (for fishing) between our previous trip earlier in the season at over 9K to the difference 2K made. The fishing was slow (I'm not the best fisherman), and for the bulk of the A section we worked on catching a buzz, and telling stories!

We hit Little Hole around 4PM, and double check the board... yep, we were still signed up, and figured we would have plenty of time to float the remaining 2.8 mi to our campsite. The fishing in the B section turned on for our crew, and everyone began to really enjoy themselves! There was a slight afternoon shower, but heck... this is the West and it's been a great season for afternoon showers to help keep the fire danger down. Everyone (including my 9 year old) was enjoying the last couple of miles of our float, and looking for camp. All of the camps were full of your typical river characters thoroughly enjoying their new found homes for the evening. We floated past one camp that did have long sleeve layers laid over the sign which was occupied. This should have been my first clue... BUT I hadn't camped in the B section prior, so I wasn't overly concerned (due to my lack of camp name knowledge for this section). We end up floating to Red Creek, and at this point we realize that we have for sure missed our camp. We decide to push on, and hopefully catch a open camp downstream... My son has a great run through Red Creek, and everyone is still thoroughly enjoying the float (what other option did we really have?). Come to find out it was a completely booked weekend below Red Creek in regards the remaining camps.

We decide after speaking with another crew, that we are in fact screwed on camps and that we could make Bridge Hollow by dusk. We push through and arrive at the ramp just in time for the sun to go down completely. We pitch camp on the boat ramp parking area, and proceed to cook dinner. At this point the rain, and wind decided to really cut loose and open up. Luckily we had a car at this ramp which we were able to hunker down in for a good bit. Everyone proceeds to finish catching a buzz, and sack off to sleep. Tired, sore and a little grumpy we all agreed that the day was a great one, and proceed to go to sleep.

I woke up the next day slightly grumpy... agitated for sure that someone poached our camp, and the potential issue it could have created for a less prepared crew. I decided it's not worth the confrontation to go put back on and float back to "our" reserved campsite to give them a "what for".

To the group that rented the outfitters gear or was on a guided trip to whom we know who the outfitter is. I'm not typically a confrontational type of person, and I firmly believe in river karma. To this fine crew of river stewards I have the following thoughts :
  • Thank you for fully introducing my wife's friend to river life, and the thought process that sometimes plans go to shit. (She was a great sport, and didn't complain once!)
  • Thank you for giving us the opportunity to prove to my son that he can kayak that far in a single afternoon. He found it empowering, and was not interested in riding on the raft except for the last mile or so...
  • The contact at Little Hole whom fills out the reservation board has been contacted
  • I hope your groover was full of piss, and you forgot to put the lid on correctly
  • I hope the fish you caught were riddle with wasting fish disease and broke your Orvis rod.
  • I hope you had a flat on your trailer on the shuttle route, and that your "paid" shuttle service did not come through for you
  • I hope you wrapped in Red Creek, and no one was around to lend a hand
  • I hope the next time you cowboy camp you are eaten alive with sand fleas and biting flies
  • I hope your boats have pin hole leaks that you are never able to track down and patch
  • I hope you run a "wet cooler" and forget to drain it thus cross contaminating your beverage of choices lid which gives you the shits to point you run out of TP
  • I hope to cross paths again with these unknown strangers when they are in a time of need, and I get the opportunity to be the better person with the gut feeling that you were that "crew"
  • I hope you realized you screwed another crew, and that if it had been someone else's group that you could have put them in harms way.
  • I hope the river gods laugh, and collect your monies for seasons to come for lottery permits with no return.
  • I hope you had a great trip and realize it came at the cost of another crew who's help / generosity you may need in the future.

All in all it was a good time despite the change of plans. I'm already hoping to get back up that direction in Oct.! I figured I would post this up so that others are aware that your reservation could potentially mean jack shit. This is the first time that this has happened to our crew ever, but I'm certain as more selfish people enter the world of outdoor pursuits it wont be the last...

Cheers & SYOTR!!!
 

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That's a lot of ill wishing for some people who used your camp... they might have had no clue they were in the wrong. I do agree its a messed up thing to do. That being said as an experienced river runner like yourself how do you not know where your camp is? You looked at the board at least twice and should have noted what camp was above yours right? Sounds like you were the one who messed up most of all.

We had some people earlier this year claim that we had stolen their camp at red creek until I produced a picture of the board at little hole showing we had made the reservation first. The other group claimed you can only reserve like 48hrs in advance and our reservation was then wiped from the board allowing them to book the site. (This is not how the board at little hole works and was later confirmed with the river ranger.)
 

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I had Grasshopper I poached a month or so ago. We did a late float and didn’t get to camp until almost sundown. It was too late for the other group to safely get back on the river so we ended up sharing it. We had reserved the site the week prior but didn’t check the board on the day of the float. The other group claimed they signed up that afternoon, but couldn’t produce an picture or pay stub…so I have a feeling they just poached.
The board system is a really crappy system that desperately needs to be changed. It also gives the guide outfitters a ridiculous monopoly on the sites. At least one of the outfitters will just block out all of their preferred campsites for the entire 2 week block of dates continuously throughout the summer.
 

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I was anxious our site would be poached as we had two families and younger kids. Fortunately it didn’t happen but something I am weirdly anxious it will happen. Curious what would’ve happened if you found your camp and asked them to leave.
 

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I feel your pain, and this thought made me laugh my ass off!
  • I hope your boats have pin hole leaks that you are never able to track down and patch.
I used to be a river ranger for the BLM on that section many years ago, and nothing gave me more pleasure than busting a group that wasn't in the correct camp spot. It didn't happen very often, but when it did, I came down hard on people and made them move, no matter how late in the day.

The board is definitely a sub-optimal system, but they are very slow to change anything in that district. I always wanted to rip out the camp signage, picnic tables, steel fire rings, wooden cribbing, and outhouses from the camps and "re-wild" the river, but my suggestions always fell on deaf ears. Its a very backwards Ranger District on the Forest Service side, and its half BLM. The two agencies could never collaborate on anything. Since its part of a National Recreation Area, they seemed wont to spend on really stupid projects, while neglecting routine maintenance. Some of the laziest people I've ever met in my entire life worked on the Forest Service side.

I highly recommend getting a GPS unit and loading all camp data. It makes missing a camp a lot more difficult. This case is a good example of the need to educate people on the perils of camp poaching and unwanted "sharing".
 

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Would having the reservation system fully taken over by wreck.gov be an improvement?!?!
To me the problem on the B section is much bigger than just the board. At the time I was there they didn’t require standard equipment like firepans and groovers, and it tended to result in a lot of people running it that weren’t very experienced river runners. That makes it all that much less likely that something like a physical signup board is going to work well.

Back in the day the board was managed by the volunteer camp host at Little Hole. Many of the volunteers did a great job, but its always hit or miss, and easy to get out of sync.

I think rec.gov would work well if the ranger district would standardize / modernize river management practices in general, and put more focus in educating users both at the launch site, and when booking the trips online.

With the volume of people on the river now days, you absolutely need a better reservation system. Having hoards of people just show up hoping to get a camp from the board is a recipe for disaster, and makes it easy for certain groups to game the system or poach camps.
 

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Having hoards of people just show up hoping to get a camp from the board is a recipe for disaster, and makes it easy for certain groups to game the system or poach camps.
I think this is the main problem. Most people are driving 3-5 hours to get to the river and are just hoping for an open campsite slot at the board. If they get there and the board is full their options are limited. They can float A and have to camp in town, try to row all the way to C, or take the easiest route and poach a campsite and claim ignorance.

Even if you drive up the weekend prior to sign up like I did, you're now relying on nobody erasing your name for 6-7 days. If you want to check if your name is still there before you float you have to burn 30-40min driving from the dam down to Little Hole and back. You can always see if your name is on the board as you float by, but at that point there's nothing you can do about it anyway unless it's early enough in the day that a ranger is still at LH.

All of that being said, I don't have a better system in mind. Maybe Rec.gov and only make the sites reservable up to 7 days in advance? That way you won't have people or outfitters reserving weekends and not showing up, and it would still give people enough time to prepare for a weekend trip or make other plans if they don't get a riverside campsite.
 

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Maybe Rec.gov and only make the sites reservable up to 7 days in advance? That way you won't have people or outfitters reserving weekends and not showing up, and it would still give people enough time to prepare for a weekend trip or make other plans if they don't get a riverside campsite.
I really like this idea, and think it would strike a good balance. They definitely need to require firepans and groovers too. Otherwise people start leaving garbage and crap behind. Having required equipment would definitely help establish better habits for new users.
 

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For sure. My guess would be that required equipment would also cut down on the number of people trying to get campsites at the spur of the moment. Similar to how Bridger Bowl requires an avy beacon for Schlasman's lift and it keeps 90% of tourists off of that terrain.
 

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infinite-point weighted lottery, administered entirely in-house by DOI or USDA. Fail to apply one year, lose 3 preference points. No transferable points. No alternate TL's. No private profits for corporate special interests. Agencies keep all funding in-corridor to pay for rangers (including LEO) and important habitat maintenance projects (no goddamn wi-fi installations, asphalt, or city park style amenities). All the money, straight to the natural resource and the people who protect it. The strict, weighted part of the lottery awards those who are committed and passionate, weeds out the goofballs, poachers, and entitled camp-stealers. I also believe in a "dedicated boater" program (UT does this for Hunters), where boaters can volunteer as ramp hosts or on maintenance projects to be rewarded with lottery preference points.

No one above GS-9 is entertaining these ideas, because they're not in the manual.
 

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That's a lot of (very funny) hate you threw out there. If I'm making sense of this, you could have passed your open camp. More likely, you just didn't know which of the occupied camps was yours to claim. Kinda hard to toss around vitriol when you yourself didn't know where your camp was, although I'm glad you did just for the chuckles. Could have been a mistake, probably just someone gambling by sneaking in late in the day. In either case, I'm sure it would have been solved with a polite conversation. I always take a picture of the board when I have a reservation; this has solved both of the camp robberies I have experienced amicably.
 

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Yeah I agree. Do onx on yer phone. Float up and just be nice and say ,” oh no you’re in the wrong camp you better get going before it’s dark.” Or if there’s room make new friends! The world is shrinking and we’re getting older lol. It sucks to rely on technology but seriously onx on your phone is just to good and to easy. I’ve stood in front of angry landowners hunting and said of course I’ll leave and iam sorry they are upset but iam not on your land and please call the sheriff if you like and they chill out and are nice. Easy and if they are poaching you just say here’s the regs here’s my reservation, here’s the satellite and you gotta go.
 

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iam not on your land and please call the sheriff
That's fine when it's true. I've had plenty of calls in my day job where a boater or fouler played that exact card; and while it was resolved amicably, the landowner was in the right. Unfortunately OnX is rarely accurate when it comes to ambulatory riparian ownership boundaries, b/c OnX just farms the plat data from individual County Recorders. Those County records are not guaranteed legal and won't hold up as a defense if you're in the wrong. Like I said I've never had it happen, but to be fair just because OnX says you're on yellow/green/blue; doesn't mean you in the clear.
 

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No but typically your so far or the road is legal ect that it at a minimum calms them down. Shows your responsibile, shoes you want to follow the rules. You know? Instead of being a jerk your willing to do anything you need to. They do claim to be within several yards but of course I don’t know exactly and when in doubt …shoot…er I mean …don’t shoot….lol. Makes finding camps a breeze though and sometimes camps aren’t very obvious at least sometimes to me. Better than having no access to our public land or having a terrible long day on a river? The new one has trails and stuff too good for the wife!!
 

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That's a lot of (very funny) hate you threw out there. If I'm making sense of this, you could have passed your open camp. More likely, you just didn't know which of the occupied camps was yours to claim. Kinda hard to toss around vitriol when you yourself didn't know where your camp was, although I'm glad you did just for the chuckles. Could have been a mistake, probably just someone gambling by sneaking in late in the day. In either case, I'm sure it would have been solved with a polite conversation. I always take a picture of the board when I have a reservation; this has solved both of the camp robberies I have experienced amicably.
If the camp was poached, it's warranted.
And if they did pass their own camp, then all that vitriol went to a boogeyman who doesn't exist.
Eh.
 

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infinite-point weighted lottery, administered entirely in-house by DOI or USDA. Fail to apply one year, lose 3 preference points. No transferable points. No alternate TL's. No private profits for corporate special interests. Agencies keep all funding in-corridor to pay for rangers (including LEO) and important habitat maintenance projects (no goddamn wi-fi installations, asphalt, or city park style amenities). All the money, straight to the natural resource and the people who protect it. The strict, weighted part of the lottery awards those who are committed and passionate, weeds out the goofballs, poachers, and entitled camp-stealers. I also believe in a "dedicated boater" program (UT does this for Hunters), where boaters can volunteer as ramp hosts or on maintenance projects to be rewarded with lottery preference points.

No one above GS-9 is entertaining these ideas, because they're not in the manual.
^^^
I think Tony gets what I'm saying.

I didn't actually suggest rec.gov. My point was more "beware trading the devil you know for the devil you do not know."

I hate rec.gov.
 

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Maybe I'm confused but all the digging I could find states that the camp sign up board at Little Hole requires you sign up "day of launch". I've always signed up the night before but thought that was fairly kosher. That's always been my understanding of how these sights were regulated (except the sites on rec.gov). I'm seeing people saying they're signing up a week(s) before which I'm sure only adds to confusion and these problems. Maybe something has changed and I don't necessarily agree with the policy but it looks like lots of folks aren't playing by the rules.
 

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Maybe I'm confused but all the digging I could find states that the camp sign up board at Little Hole requires you sign up "day of launch". I've always signed up the night before but thought that was fairly kosher. That's always been my understanding of how these sights were regulated (except the sites on rec.gov). I'm seeing people saying they're signing up a week(s) before which I'm sure only adds to confusion and these problems. Maybe something has changed and I don't necessarily agree with the policy but it looks like lots of folks aren't playing by the rules.
Nature Wood Font Vegetation Natural landscape


Read the top of the reservation board closely. You can reserve any empty spot on the board with an exception of the camps with an * next to them (Bootleg, Cats Paw, Cottonwood, Trails End, Big Pine I, Big Pine II). The camps with the * are reservable on recreation.gov and can be signed up for on the board when blank if its with in 2 days of campsite use. If I was staying at the reservable sites I would always make sure to do the reservation on Recreation.gov and then make sure its also listed as such on the board.

They did alter the reservation process on this stretch of river earlier this year by restricting online reservations to only 3 days. The river office is also working to establish specific outfitter camps so that they can post up for a while and not restrict camp usage for private boaters. I really don't want this river to go to only online reservations as it will make it easier for someone to reserve a camp then not show and reduce access for people who are actually going to use the camps.
 
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