Carbondale boat ramp closed for now |

Carbondale boat ramp closed for now

John Gardner
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado
Janet Urquhart/The Aspen TimesAnglers who've drifted down the Roaring Fork River from above Carbondale stop briefly at the Koziel boat ramp at Carbondale Wednesday. The launch is closed pending lease negotiations for access to the site. The closure is noted on a makeshift sign at the ramp and on a nearby Division of Wildlife sign (below).

CARBONDALE ” Boaters, at least for the time being, no longer have access to the Roaring Fork River via the popular launch site at Carbondale.

“I don’t think very many people know about it right now,” said fishing guide Kyle Holt, voicing concern about the closure. “But it’s closed, and I’m not sure what happened.”

According to Colorado Division of Wildlife spokesman Randy Hampton, road access to the ramp, located just below the Highway 133 bridge at the entrance to Carbondale, was closed in June when the 10-year-lease agreement expired between the DOW and the landowners, Stanley and Valerie Koziel of Carbondale.

A sign at the vehicle turnaround near the ramp announces the closure, and a makeshift sign was placed near the water on the gravel ramp itself.

“It wasn’t getting much use in the early part of the year with the high water levels,” Hampton said. “But as the water came down, we are getting in a little bit of a pinch with people wanting to use it.”

Holt said if the ramp remains closed, it will affect not only his fishing business, but impact many in the Roaring Fork Valley who’ve been accustomed to using the put-in as a launch site for commercial and private rafting, fishing, tubing and kayaking.

Hopefully, it won’t come to that, said Perry Wills, DOW area manager in Glenwood Springs. Wills said the DOW and the Koziels are in negotiations on a lease agreement for the access point.

“The Koziels are in possession of the lease agreement, but we do not have a signed lease yet,” Wills said.

With no signed agreement in place, the Koziels are liable for what happens on their property. The access can’t be reopened until another lease agreement is in place protecting them from liability in the event anyone is injured at the site. The Koziels could not be reached Tuesday for comment.

Wills said the DOW and the Koziels have had a good working relationship through the years and that he expects to have an agreement in place within a couple of weeks.

“I do anticipate they would agree to let us use the access again,” Wills said.

The town, meanwhile, has been in negotiations to purchase the property as part of its plans for riverfront amenities there.

According to Wills, negotiations between the property owners and DOW have taken extra time because the Koziels didn’t want to sign another long-term lease as they have in the past. On Tuesday, the DOW was awaiting a response from the Koziels on a year-by-year deal, he said.

“They were agreeable to do that, but it just takes time,” Wills said. “The Koziels have been very good working with us.”

In a best-case scenario, the access could reopen by July 18, but Wills offered no guarantee the launch would open that quickly.

He agreed with Holt, though, that the Koziel boat ramp is one of the more heavily used boat launches in the Roaring Fork Valley, and maybe in Colorado.

“We would have a predicament without the lease, because a lot of commercial boaters, rafting companies, fishing outfitters use that ramp,” Wills said. “I would guess that it’s one of the highest-use boat ramps in the state.”

With the ramp at Carbondale closed, the DOW still has three other access points along the Roaring Fork River between Carbondale and Glenwood Springs, including one that accommodates boaters ” the West Bank boat ramp on County Road 109.

Midvalley boaters also launch into the Roaring Fork at the Catherine Store Bridge above Carbondale.

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