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Discussion Starter #1
This ICP is some of the more assertive and meaningful stuff that has come down the AHRA pike in a while. It will have a prfound effect on the Upper Ark Valley and I beleive that it is on the whole a good thing for Private Boaters. We have been working on this concept the whole time I have been on the CTF (2years) and it has really gone forward in the last few months with hard work from your other rep, Marshall.

It is not perfect but it is, I beleive, in the balance, a positive thing for Private boaters on the Ark. Nobody wants permitting on the Ark and this plan is not a cure all but it will elimiante the severe inequity in Browns. Don't beleive the hype if you read that shitty ariticle by Charlie Myers in the Sunday Sports section. He does not have a deep enough understanding of this plan. This is not about the State trying to milk more money out of little guys in the outfitting industry. This is about outifitters paying the true cost of running a business on the number one commercial river in the country. It is about eliminating corporate welfare in my opinion and I used to own a raft company here.

In terms of the Numbers. We can deal with the Commercial increase up there. I have run the numbers over 500 times over the last 10 years both as a commercial guide and mostly in my kayak. It is nearly impossible to milk a numbers trip for longer then an hour, in a raft, so even with the expanded launch window you are still not going to see commercial boats in the numbers past 3pm. Commercial boats in the Numbers is just not the same as in Browns. They don't really pull over and there are very few areas that they can get bunched up. Plus we still have the 3 crieteria in the management plan that protect us. The increases in the Numbers will happen 10 boats at a time and we can voice our opinions to AHRA is we are seeing negative impacts on us in the Numbers with increased use and likely stop the increases.

So my opinion is that we should get behind this plan. Please e-mail me or if you want call my office 719-539-0700 if you need anything clarified before the meeting, tonight. I hope Denver boaters will come out and get behind this plan. Thanks, Mike Harvey
 

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Mike,
I just attended the meeting at REI. It wasn't set up very good. Itseemed like they had little "work shops" in various corners of the room which divided people up. Definitely not a Q& A question.
My question is, What is the plan? They still didn't know if they were going to permit, were unclear of user days(# of boaters, both com. & private)
How much permits were going to be. How long the wait would be.
How can we get behind it if they don't even know what it is?

I think once the door gets opened (permits) it'll be hard to close.
As a resident of Salida, do you really want to not be able to paddle the #'s on a given day because you don't have a permit.

The rangers at the REI meeting stated over and over that it would be most cost effective to permit the whole river. I asked if that would mean you need a permit to use the play park in Salida, they Said, "If it's on the Ark, absolutely."

?????


Joel

Let's sick Woody on 'em, he'll fix this whole mess.
 

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I was there too. I liked the format. You could talk with the Park service directly, instead of a big Q&A session.

The way I understood it, if the Brown's Canyon private boater numbers are increased from 150 to 240, which is the plan, they won't permit.

But a permit system is probably inevitable.

Yes, it is crazy to permit the play park in Salida. Someone else made the point of what if you want to do a run in the late afternoon when usage is way down--why permit that?

Pass your comments on to the AHRA--who's got the e-mail address? The deadline is tomorrow, Wednesday!
 

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In my understanding of the ICP both the Salida play spot and the Buena Vista play spot are exempt from rationing so no worries about the park and play on any day. Just let the AHRA know that these spots need kept exempt form rationing.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Yeah that is right. Salida and BV are exempt from counts, so they will never be permitted. Joel, here are the basics. There are capacity numbers for each section for Privates and Commmercials so when those numbers are exceeded for three days during a given season then permitting can be put in place. So privates have 350 boats per day in the Numbers and last year our high day was like 120 or so. So no one is talking about permitting the Numbers.

In terms of permits in general...of course I don't want to be permitted. No one does. But the issue of whether or not there will be permits for private boaters someday on the Ark is not on the table. There will be. That battle was lost during the management plan review in 1998-2000. So when we hit our capacities in sections of river we will have to deal with permits.

We have exceeded our capacity in Browns (150 bpd) in both 2001 and 2003 but we have delayed permitting by trying to find a way to get more boats in Browns. That is what the ICP is for privates, an increase from 150 to 240bpd in Browns to avoid permitting for now. Commercials are giving up the 90 boats in Browns to go from 450 to 360. So the big compromise is to allow the commercials to go from the 60 boats per day they have in the management plan right now to 90 boats per day. Any increase for them would happen 10 boats per year and with three crieteria in place to evaluate whether they get those extra boats: expansion of facilities (in the works), minimal additional user conflicts, and minimal impact to the resource.

So what we have to do in the Numbers is report any conflicts to AHRA (if they exist) and help them monitor the increases. However, if State Parks shoots down the increase in the Numbers then commercials will still get their 60 boats and we will likely drop to 200 in Browns which will trigger permitting because we hit that number last season a couple of times. Yeah I know that sucks why can't we get our boats in Browns with no increase in the Numbers for commercials? Because that is the compromise and I for one can live with in to stave off permits in Browns for another few years. If anyone has any questions please fire them off to me [email protected]. thanks.
 

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Good comments by Mike Harvey.

But, I also heard that they may want to permit the entire Ark.

Overall, the system is skewed against from private boaters--let's face it, money has influence. Commercial boaters bring in more money for themselves and probably the hotels & restaurants. I'm sure the politicians are telling the park service to help the big commercial outfits.

But, I think private boaters can flex more muscle than they did in the 1980's when the plan were set up and than 1998-2000 when the plan was revised. There are more of us and we can communicate and organize better because of the web.

The more private boaters who speak up, the more clout we have.

Would someone, (Andy Horn?!) please post the ahra web site for comments--they are due Wednesday.

People who haven't given feedback, I would recommend commenting one or more of the following:

1) Try to avoid permits
2) If you do permit, don't permit the entire Ark, just the busy sections
3) Don't permit off-peak hours or weekdays
4) Please be aware that a large number of rafts on the numbers can be a danger because of the narrow, continuous nature of the river.
5) Using "boats per day" as the usage statistic is clearly biased. The argument that rafts and kayaks effect fisherman equally doesn't work on heavy use sections where fisherman are very few.

Include your name and address.

Thanks.
 

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As far as I've seen, there's no place on their website for posting comments. Since Marshall's likely out of town until after tomorrow, the only thing I'd recommend is to email your comments to the rangers that were at the meeting. I got a card from John Geerdes who can be emailed at:

[email protected]

his phone # is 719-539-7289
fax # 719-539-3771

Hopefully this will help.

I was underwhelmed with the format of the meeting last night and would have liked to have seen more structure to it. It seemed ineffecient and random - folks hanging out and asking questions that may have been already answered and discussed, a slideshow going on without much explanation, and a few vague posters up on easels. I often couldn't hear what the rangers were saying because they were talking to a couple of folks in a large group that surrounded them. They quickly ran out of nametags and comment forms. My guess is that they weren't expecting the turnout they got.

As for it being skewed against private boaters, the State's aiming at squeezing them a bit more than currently. If the ICP happens the State's hoping to cut the number of commercial outfitters by 25%, cutting the number of commercial boats per day by about 130 and shifting 90 bpd to privates on Brown's. The commercials will also have their yearly fees for commercial permits increased from $400 to $2,500, and will have to pay $5,000 to transfer a permit until there are 45 or fewer operating. Its probably not much compared to the expenses involved in the rest of the operation but may put pressure on a few to close up shop.

If an outfitter does close up shop, what happens to that outfitter's allocation of boats?

Get those comments in,

--Andy
 

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Found it. The e-mail address to send comments to is [email protected] . Andy's e-mail address above should also do the trick.


Please drop an e-mail to this address stating your concern for appropriate access by private boaters. The deadline is Wednesday, Feb 11.

Show them that private boaters are becoming a force!
 

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Discussion Starter #9
You can also e-mail your comments to me [email protected] ( I am the other private boater rep.)

Andy, there has only been one case of an outiftter simply closing up, Rocky Mountain Tours who went out of business in 1997. Remeber that the permit for commercials is technically state property. So when this happened RMT's use (a lot of use they were at one time the 6th largest on the river) went into a pool and was divided among outfitters, I am not sure how. Most of the time an outfitter will sell their use and transfer their permit to someone. It is sort of complicated but essentially what this plan does is encourage consolidation, so big companies eating up small companies, because it will not be worth a person buying a small company and trying to run that company as is with such a high transfer fee.

The problem is that there are too many companies on this river. They are constantly undercutting each other and keeping the price of trip down to levels that makes it hard for anyone to make money, especially after 2002 and the resulting rescession in this micro economy. And don't give me that "I don't care if they make money, evil empire, blah, blah," crap. I care because I am a resident of this valley and raft companies are an important part of our economy and they are far better coporate citizens then most business you could think of.

In terms of AHRA being skewed against private boaters...I agree that commercials have a more organized voice...it is their business and Marshall and I have work, families skiing and everything else. However this issue (Borwns Canyon) and the ICP has really helped to mobilize the private community and I have heard that a ton of people showed up at the REI the other night. THat is great. When you really look at it Denver is where most of the boaters live so we need Denver boaters to be educated and involved.

They are not going to permit the whole river. There is this thing called the management plan (you can get a copy from AHRA) and it lays out carrying capacities per section and when those are exceeded three days in one season then permitting can get put in place. I don't understand what AHRA staff said that made people think that the whole river was in jepordy (I am going to call Rob White today and try to understand what they said) but only Browns is over capacity (2001 and 2003). If this plan goes through we would get 240bpd in Browns and that would avoid permitting. No other section is really very close to hitting the numbers for privates and the Salida and BV whitewater parks are exempt. If they try to permit the whole river I will walk out of my office, accross the street 300 feet or so and into the AHRA office where I will raise holy hell for the three hours or so it takes the rest of you to drive up from Denver.

Stay involved and e-mail me or AHRA your comments.
 

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Mike,

Good comments and thanks for all the work you and Marshall have put into this, my question that I couldn't quite get an answer from the rangers is when will they be implemeting the bpd trade with commercialls or at least make a definate decision on that.

I was talking with a couple of the company owners that did attend and they seem alright with giving up those browns boats but they want AHRA to hold up there end by cutting down the number of companies down to 45. It seems like the AHRA is getting some pressure from the legislature for trying to cut out the smaller companies, so AHRA is dragging there feet on that issue so it seems to me that if the commerciall companies that have agreed to giving up there boats for fewer companies might renig if they don't get there part of the agreement. I definately could be wrong on that analysis but that was a problem at the REI meeting, it seemed to me that I couldn't get very many definitive answers on anything.

Any input on that would be helpful.

Thanks
Danny
 

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Discussion Starter #11
A couple of things:
1. The ICP is before the State Parks Board at this point. So AHRA is out of the direct decision making from that standpoint although I am sure that the State Parks Board will make it decesion based on AHRA Staff reccomendations.
2. Neither State Parks Board or AHRA can simply reduce the number of companies to 45. By raising the minimum fee and the fee to transfer a permit they simply can put measures into place that make people who own a small company decided whether or not it is worth selling the company or keeping it at the new, higher minimum fee, or retiring their permit to the state and selling their user days and gear. Here is the key part of this to me. Each outfitter pays 5.25% of each client's gross fee to AHRA so for any outfitter that grosses more than $50,000 a summer there is no change. Do you think that $50,000 gross in one year of any business is very much money? No. I owned a company on the Ark for four years and our best year we grossed just over $50,000 and I lived off my girlfriends tips from rafting with a bigger company. So to me it is just a basic question...what is it worth to hold a permit on the nation's number one river? $400? No way. People have the right to stay small by choice but that choice should cost them more than $400.
3. So to answer your question...the Outfitters can't just pull those boats back (they don't technically "own" that allocation of use), all they can do is what we can do, negotiate and haggle and at the end of the day AHRA and the State Parks Board is going to weigh all of that input and do what they think is best for the greatest number of people (mixed with a healthy does of politics as well I'm sure).
I hope they accept some version of this plan because having worked closely with AHRA and the Citizen's Task Force I can tell you that it is nearly impossible for AHRA to make really profound decisions because they are listening to so many diverse voices. It would be great to see them so something this radical that, in my opinion, would have a positive effect on the river and the local communities, in the balance.
 

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News Release

Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area Integrated
Concept Plan presented to Colorado State Parks Board

DENVER, Co—On Feb. 13 the Colorado State Parks Board met at Cherry Creek State Park to discuss the Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area (AHRA) Integrated Concept Plan (ICP). The ICP is designed to provide assistance in resolving a number of Private Boat and Special Use Agreement issues that have been brought to the attention of Colorado State Parks and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The plan is a collaborative solution involving Colorado State Parks, the BLM, the AHRA Citizen’s Task Force, the Arkansas River Outfitters Association, private boater groups and the general outdoor recreation public. Adoption of the ICP could lead to modifications of the 2001 Arkansas River Recreation Management Plan.
Prior to the board meeting, four public meetings were held in Leadville, Salida, Canon City and Denver to discuss the proposals outlined within the ICP. The comments received at these meetings were utilized to draft a revised version of the ICP that was presented to the Colorado State Parks Board. The revised version is available for public comment on the Web at www.parks.state.co.us under the link entitled “AHRA Integrated Concept Plan.” Public comment on the revised ICP can be sent via email or physical mail until March 5 at 5:00 p.m. Specific email and physical addresses at which comments will be received isare listed on the Web site. Following this comment period the Colorado State Parks Board will consider adoption of the revised ICP at their March 25-26 meeting in Canon City.
The 2001 Arkansas River Recreation Management Plan began in the spring of 1998 as a revision of the original management plan developed in 1989 as part of the establishment of the AHRA. The AHRA stretches 150 miles along the river from its headwaters near Leadville down to Lake Pueblo State Park. Both the 1989 and 2001 plans were products of comprehensive public involvement processes. The complete 2001 plan is available on the Web at www.parks.state.co.us by using the Park Quick Find and selecting Arkansas Headwaters and then selecting Management Plan from the left-hand menu.
 

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Doesn't anyone else think we should try to manage ourselves?

While I'm not excited about seeing more commercial boats on the Numbers, overall I think the plan is a great compromise for the community.

My guess is that this plan will buy a few years before we trigger a permit system again ---Unless we manage our usage. If we're smart, we'll use the next few years to develop an alternative to a permit system.

Here's my idea.....

Each weekend/Holiday day has a sign-in sheet for each of the main launch points for Brown's. Each site has artificial launch slots and we ask boaters to check-in before launching.

As an example, we'd artificially allocate:
- 125 slots for Ruby Mtn,
- 75 slots for Fisherman's Bridge
- 40 slots for other locations

The allocations should change as we collect data on where people launch.

If I wanted to run Brown's w/ friends, we'd probably drive to Ruby Mtn. If the sign-in sheet said 122 boats had launched and my group had 4 people, then we'd have 3 options.
1) Choose a different stretch of river,
2) Check the other launch locations, or
3) run the river anyway.

Hopefully the majority of boaters would choose option 1 or 2. I don't know whether private boaters would show the discipline to use this system, but it's a low cost experiment that could forestall a permit system for a long time. I don't understand why people aren't thinking about some type of plan. We have a few years so we ought to start testing and tweaking self-management plans. The beauty of starting now is that we can compare the self-management sign-in sheets with the AHRA boat counts to see how well the system is working. While it wouldn't be a guarantee, if the system is proven to control our numbers to 240 +/- a small error rate, then hopefully that would be adequate.

People may say there are a several launch spots and we can't get them all, but we can get the major 3/4. If we educate the community on the importance of signing-in, then hopefully the community would be willing to drive 5 minutes out of their way to sign-in before launching.

If we don't try something, then I'll be highly disappointed in the CTF plan and the private boater community. The beauty of the Numbers is that I haven't seen huge trains of commercial rafts and I don't have to worry as much about getting run-over by a raft. If we do nothing, then we'll have traded a short-term reprieve from Permits for long-term commercialization of the Numbers. That would be a VERY disappointing trade.


If the AHRA is already planning to post additional signs, then it shouldn't be hard to add the sign-in boxes.

I wrote this comment at the Denver flagship store and I sent Rob White and email re-iterating the comment and offering volunteers from the Pikes Peak Whitewater club to help build whateve needs to be done.

Drew
 
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