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Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area seeks comment on Management Plan revision

SALIDA, Colo. – Colorado Parks and Wildlife, the Bureau of Land Management, and the U.S. Forest Service are seeking public input on the management plan revision for recreation use along the Arkansas River. The Arkansas River Headwaters Area Management Plan provides a framework for managing numerous and often conflicting recreation activities along the 152-mile river corridor. The public scoping period starts on Jan. 11 and ends on Feb. 12, 2016.

The Arkansas River is the most commercially rafted river in the United States, drawing nearly 240,000 (1) commercial boaters and resulting in an economic impact of more than 60 million dollars (2). The Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area is also popular for camping, wildlife watching, gold panning and numerous other river-related recreation activities, including its Gold Medal Trout Fishery.

“It is important for the public to engage in the Arkansas River Headwaters Area Management Plan because it provides a long-term framework for recreation decisions on the river,” said Rob White, CPW Park Manager. “Many of the complex natural resource issues we deal with have long-term consequences. This planning effort enables the AHRA partnership to develop a lasting framework for recreation management decisions.”

CPW, BLM, and USFS are inviting the public to a series of meetings to help guide the AHRA partnership as they develop the AHRA Management Plan. The open-house meetings will run from 5:45 p.m. – 8 p.m. and will feature an introduction at 6 p.m. The meetings will also feature a focus-group style station to help the AHRA partnership understand why you value current recreation opportunities on the river. The meeting schedule is:

Buena Vista (Jan. 25, 5:45-8 p.m., Buena Vista Community Center, 715 E. Main St)

Canon City (Jan. 26, 5:45-8 p.m., Harrison Elementary/Middle School, 485 N. Cottonwood Ave)

Colorado Springs (Jan. 27, 5:45-8 p.m., CPW Southeast Regional Office, 4255 Sinton Rd)

Denver (Jan. 28, 5:45-8 p.m., REI Flagship Store, 1416 Platte St, Denver)


Based on public comments received during the scoping period, the AHRA partnership will develop a series of alternatives, which will be available for public review. Once those alternatives are revised based on public feedback, a draft environmental assessment will be published for public input (estimated Fall 2016). A final plan is expected to be signed in early 2017.

The current AHRA Management Plan can be found here: Colorado Parks & Wildlife - Publications

For more information please contact AHRA at 719-539-7289 or to submit a comment visit the AHRA website at: Colorado Parks & Wildlife - Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area

Before including your address, phone number, e-mail address, or other personal identifying information in your comment, be advised that your entire comment -- including your personal identifying information -- may be made publicly available at any time. While you can ask us in your comment to withhold from public review your personal identifying information, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so.
 

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Bump.

It's important as private boaters that we speak up in this process. Let the AHRA know what you want to see happen with the state park over the next 20 years. A big point we should all make is to stress how important it is that they maintain the Upper Arkansas as a freely open river to private boaters. No permits! The day that they will have to make a decision regarding this issue on section 3 (Salida East to Rincon) is quickly drawing near. Make your voice heard!
 

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As a private boater on the Arkansas, I have to ask at what point does more "management" have a diminishing return?

If we see permits on Browns Canyon or the lower sections, we will just end with more users on the Numbers and Royal Gorge. So families with Class III equipment and skills will be running Class !V.

I would like to see the new put-in above #1 in the Numbers built.
But then the Numbers turns into a shitshow like Browns.

I would like to see the dam below Granite cleaned up, but then we would have much more traffic on Pine Creek.

Would love to see the bridge below #1 raised, but that helps out a handful of boaters, only at extreme high water.

At some point more management means more problems!
 

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Discussion Starter #6
As a private boater on the Arkansas, I have to ask at what point does more "management" have a diminishing return?

If we see permits on Browns Canyon or the lower sections, we will just end with more users on the Numbers and Royal Gorge. So families with Class III equipment and skills will be running Class !V.

I would like to see the new put-in above #1 in the Numbers built.
But then the Numbers turns into a shitshow like Browns.

I would like to see the dam below Granite cleaned up, but then we would have much more traffic on Pine Creek.

Would love to see the bridge below #1 raised, but that helps out a handful of boaters, only at extreme high water.

At some point more management means more problems!
I agree about permits. Initiating a permit program on one section only displaces those users to another section and eventually leads to permitting of the entire river. Although current managers have absolutely no desire to see this happen, they won't be running the state park forever...

The new Numbers launch and campground is slated for the ground breaking this year.

Not sure what ever happened about cleaning up Granite Dam. Last I heard they had received matching funds from the state to clean it up, but this was several years ago...

Haven't heard any talk of raising the old Scott's bridge.

I agree about the negatives of increased regulation and think it's important to maintain things in their current state without new rules or price increases. Please take the time to fill out the comment form on the link provided above. The more private boaters that speak up, the better. You better believe commercial and fishermen will be vocal about what they want to see.
 

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Thanks for keeping us informed, as you said the other users are going to be vocal so we as private boaters need to be as well.

I have the denver date on my calendar and will be attending.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Correction

The address for the Canon City meeting was wrong. The location is:

Canon City (Jan. 26, 5:45-8 p.m., Harrison Elementary/Middle School, 920 Field St.)
 

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Discussion Starter #10
The meeting in BV last night went well. Thank you to everyone who attended.

Reminder:

The Canon City meeting is tonight, with Colorado Springs tomorrow and Denver Thursday.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Also wanted to provide an update to the inquiry regarding the new launch at Numbers...

Sounds like the AHRA just submitted their proposed plan of action to the Forest Service which means they are now looking at a 2017 ground breaking. Latest from Rob White makes it sound like the site will be a bit smaller than first anticipated with 3 pull through camp sites, 3 tent sites, a new commercial launch about 1/2 mile downstream from the existing site and river access from the "campground". The current Numbers launch will be decommissioned and no longer available for use.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Here are some Topics/Information/Questions for your consideration when making comments, courtesy Christina King (environmental rep to the CTF and representative for Pikes Peak River Runners):

Mining:

* Should placer mining be allowed along river corridor? Concerns about sedimentation and lack of “cleanup”, miners dig up riverbed (bad for fishery), dig around banks (erosion and don’t repair the site after done digging).

* If we can’t stop it, how can we minimize damage done?

Land Acquisition (site development, enhance existing sites, etc…): Think about the AHRA sites that you use:

* How could they be improved? Should they be improved? Do you want water, electric and sewer hookups, trash service, cell service, wifi? Are you willing to pay more for these amenities? Or at the very minimum pit toilets at each site. Is parking adequate? Is river access good enough? Could sites be improved to provide quicker boat/trailer access?

* Do you want more river access sites (or less)? To create shorter runs? Why and where?
At a minimum, what should each river access site have? Trailer access, parking, toilets???? What else?

* Where would you put more river access sites to provide “easy” runs with no rapids to relieve the pressure at Section 3? Or to just have more short run options for families with children or easier learning areas for newbie private boaters (kayakers, rowers, float fishing, duckiers, SUP, etc…)

* Ruby Mountain site: Make the site off-limits 100% of the time to commercial operations? Or develop another site for commercial needs above Ruby. Improve (widen) put-in/takeout at existing Ruby Mountain ramp. Improve blind curve into Ruby Mountain site!

* Royal Gorge takeout options: How would you improve the takeouts? Widen existing private boater trailer ramp on river right at Canon City park and/or allow use on river left (formerly private but now commercial only)?

* Rails to Trails: Should agencies work hard to turn abandoned railroad line in Brown’s Canyon into a trail system? If so, would bikes be allowed?
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Visitor Experience (capacities, conflict, satisfaction, etc…):

* Are commercial and private boater capacities in the different sections set appropriately?

* Conduct Visitor Experience survey’s continuously (i.e. online)

* Campers: Are the sites quiet at night? Campsites too close to each other or just about right? What do you expect?

* Hikers: Do you want more trails or less? Want better trail maps?

* Anglers: Describe your perfect day angling? What bothers you the most? How do you pick where you want to fish?

* Should the plan remove all mention of private boater capacities and the corresponding direct control through private boater permitting? See Direct Controls Section 2-17 in existing plan. FYI: Commercial outfitters support the idea or removing Private Boater Direct Controls (i.e. capacity limits and private boater permitting system). Why? Because we are such a small percentage of overall use- we just don’t bother them. Private boater numbers have remained relatively flat over the years, except for increased use in Section 3. See chart on next page for overall use statistics. CTF has in effect been delaying a private boater permitting system by increasing private boater capacities slightly so we won’t reach trigger points.

* Or if managers insist on private boater permitting systems be left in plan, make the criteria to implement much more difficult. i.e. develop/change to appropriate capacities for popular stretches, require 5 consecutive years of “over capacities” before implementing permitting, require user experience survey’s to verify that this is an issue for all users, require open zones with no capacity limits within town limits, require that private boater capacity on entire river corridor not exceed capacity (not just one river segment), count people not boats, waive over capacity use during drought or high water scenarios, exchange use with commercial outfitters only if private boaters go over (but do not give excess private boater capacity to outfitters), count boat rentals as commercial users, etc….

* What user category do you put yourself in? Kayaker, duckier, rafter, SUP, float fishing angler, walk/wade angler, does it matter? Tell them if you do different activities and why. What works well in regards to other users and what “bugs” you?

* Anglers: educate anglers (walk-and-wade and float fishing) that there are many great places to fish, not just Section 3. Make a special brochure just for them highlighting access points, skill levels required (i.e. minimal to no rapids), walking ease, etc….along entire river corridor. Spread them out.

* Does the river corridor need more or less river rangers? What do you think about river rangers? Helpful? Just about right? Need more enforcement, of what?

* Have you experienced user conflict? What bothered you?
 

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Discussion Starter #13 (Edited)
Natural Resources (wildlife, fishery, birds, environment, sedimentation, etc…):

* Do you enjoy seeing wildlife? Fishing? Birdwatching? Do you go to special areas to see this or do you enjoy it IF you see it?

* Do you want river otters actively introduced back into Ark River corridor?

* Do you want Bighorn sheep actively introduced into Brown’s Canyon river corridor? Typically we don’t see them OFTEN in Brown’s Canyon.

* Are you a birder? What are your concerns?

* Improve (reduce) sedimentation issues from Chalk Creek and Hecla Junction drainages into Arkansas River.

* Continue Leave No Trace education efforts along river corridor (ie. Multiple Trailing, urination in bushes (please urinate in river), etc…. Still a problem.

* Canal owners along river corridor: Seem to get away with completing major “maintenance” projects that ruin miles of river banks. Should they have more monitoring and plan approval and follow up after the work is completed?

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Thanks all! Again, comments can be submitted here:


https://www.research.net/r/AHRAMP
 

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Here are some Topics/Information/Questions for your consideration when making comments, courtesy Christina King (environmental rep to the CTF and representative for Pikes Peak River Runners):

Mining:

* Should placer mining be allowed along river corridor? Concerns about sedimentation and lack of “cleanup”, miners dig up riverbed (bad for fishery), dig around banks (erosion and don’t repair the site after done digging).

* If we can’t stop it, how can we minimize damage done?

Land Acquisition (site development, enhance existing sites, etc…): Think about the AHRA sites that you use:

* How could they be improved? Should they be improved? Do you want water, electric and sewer hookups, trash service, cell service, wifi? Are you willing to pay more for these amenities? Or at the very minimum pit toilets at each site. Is parking adequate? Is river access good enough? Could sites be improved to provide quicker boat/trailer access?

* Do you want more river access sites (or less)? To create shorter runs? Why and where?
At a minimum, what should each river access site have? Trailer access, parking, toilets???? What else?

* Where would you put more river access sites to provide “easy” runs with no rapids to relieve the pressure at Section 3? Or to just have more short run options for families with children or easier learning areas for newbie private boaters (kayakers, rowers, float fishing, duckiers, SUP, etc…)

* Ruby Mountain site: Make the site off-limits 100% of the time to commercial operations? Or develop another site for commercial needs above Ruby. Improve (widen) put-in/takeout at existing Ruby Mountain ramp. Improve blind curve into Ruby Mountain site!

* Royal Gorge takeout options: How would you improve the takeouts? Widen existing private boater trailer ramp on river right at Canon City park and/or allow use on river left (formerly private but now commercial only)?

* Rails to Trails: Should agencies work hard to turn abandoned railroad line in Brown’s Canyon into a trail system? If so, would bikes be allowed?

Train Station river left in Cañon City was never a private boater take out. It's city owned and cost commercial outfitters 50 cents a costumer. Lots of "that guy" boaters have taken out there but it's illegal and in the way. I take out there on night trips when the wave is good but commercial traffic is lite at 2 am.


Sent from my iPhone using Mountain Buzz
 

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Train Station river left in Cañon City was never a private boater take out. It's city owned and cost commercial outfitters 50 cents a costumer. Lots of "that guy" boaters have taken out there but it's illegal and in the way. I take out there on night trips when the wave is good but commercial traffic is lite at 2 am.


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Interesting. I've taken out at the train station a least a dozen times, quite often while commercials are there and no one has ever mentioned "commercial only". It is a city park and is not posted "commercial only".

Seems strange they would add the play features just upstream of the bridge and make the access illegal for privates.
 

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Train Station river left in Cañon City was never a private boater take out. It's city owned and cost commercial outfitters 50 cents a costumer. Lots of "that guy" boaters have taken out there but it's illegal and in the way. I take out there on night trips when the wave is good but commercial traffic is lite at 2 am.
The Train Station (River Front Park) river left in Cañon City is available as a private boater take-out - and always has been. It is City owned and they at one time did charge commercial outfitters to use the site - but that was to cover administrative costs. Several years ago the City entered into an agreement with AHRA such that AHRA would manage the commercial outfitters thus removing the administrative efforts (and fee collection) required by the City. Following the approval of that agreement AHRA incorrectly signed the ramp as "commercial boaters only - permit required". After a few emails this issue was resolved and to this day you will see the subsequent sign that was posted noting that the ramp is available for private boater put-in or take-out. Parking at the ramp is restricted to commercial vehicles, but privates can use the paved lot to the west (<1 minute walk).

Now, as I see it you only have a few days left to comment to AHRA on other issues that have an impact on your use of the river such as:
> running significant amounts of water in the dead of winter
> the unfortunate bollard in the middle of the Railroad Bridge boat ramp
> the fact that the Texas Creek boat ramp is still closed
> the pending issue of Pink House (lease and purchase are in question)
> what the new campground and boat ramp will look like at Numbers (bollard in the middle of the ramp rendering it useless to trailers???)
> Minnequa dam preventing navigability in the lower valley
> the mess that is the Oil Creek Ditch diversion (fyi - new metal in the river right slot)
 

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Is the Minnequa Dam between Canon City and Florence?
I have also heard it called the CF&I Dam.

And how about cleaning up the dam between Granite and Pine Creek?

Is one of the purposes of the bollard on the Railroad Bridge ramp to limit access to too big/heavy of boats? House Rock and numerous spots on the Numbers at low water could be problem spots for big boats.

And should the ARHA decide what size boats are appropriate on what sections? It is both a safety and traffic control concern.

I mentioned earlier that every time they make access easier, traffic goes way up. I remember when it was rare to see rafts on Numbers or Pine Creek.

And thank you for clearing up the issue with the Train Statin takeout.
I always prefer the takeout that is closest to a brewpub!

And what are the issues at Pink House? I thought that was a done deal.
 
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