Forest Service presses to open facilities |

Forest Service presses to open facilities

The heavy snow load bent the end of this metal picnic table during the winter at Maroon Lake near Aspen. The U.S. Forest Service must make numerous repairs to facilities before Maroon Lake opens late this month. (Courtesy U.S. Forest Service)

BASALT ” The main boat ramp at Ruedi Reservoir likely will open this holiday weekend thanks to the U.S. Forest Service’s decision to scoop tons of mud Thursday.

Martha Moran, recreation staff director for the Aspen-Sopris Ranger District, said the low water level in Ruedi exposed more of the ramp than usual this spring. The lower portion of the ramp was coated in mud. A truck got stuck trying to pull a boat out earlier this week, Moran said, so the Forest Service dispatched heavy equipment to the Ruedi marina and boat ramp about 15 miles east of Basalt to clear it out.

Moran said she didn’t anticipate a problem getting the ramp open Friday. The campgrounds in the Ruedi complex also are open.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation released a significant amount of water from Ruedi in late winter and this spring to make room for runoff. The water level in the reservoir was the lowest since the drought of 2002 earlier this spring. Now it’s filling fast.

Reclamation bureau spokeswoman Kara Lamb said Ruedi’s water level gained nearly two feet in a 14-hour period as of 3 p.m. Thursday.

The reservoir went from 55,800 acre feet May 1 to 59,800 acre feet yesterday. An acre foot equals 325,851 gallons of water, Lamb said, so the addition of 4,000 acre feet is about 1.3 billion gallons.

The work at the boat ramp was just one example of the extra wear and tear the Forest Service is dealing with after a harsh winter. The Maroon Bells area received so much snow that the agency must deal with bent metal picnic tables, damaged roofs on toilets and the entrance station, and road damage. The folks at T-Lazy 7 Ranch in the Maroon Valley estimated that the Bells area was hit with 54 feet of snowfall this winter, Moran said.

Elsewhere, the Forest Service and its campground concessionaire, Thousand Trails, are clearing snow and debris to prepare for winter. Difficult Campground east of Aspen will not open this weekend, as Forest Service officials reported earlier this week. Moran said it should be open by May 30. That is also the target date with the Maroon Valley campgrounds.

Chapman Campground, in the upper Fryingpan Valley, also must receive extensive work before it can open. More than 60 trees killed by bark beetles must be cut down and removed for camper safety before the site can open, Moran said. Fellers might not have access for some time because of the large amount of snow still on the ground there.

The Avalanche and Bogan Flats campgrounds are open in the Crystal Valley and the Redstone Campground is supposed to open by Memorial Day weekend.

Go to for more details on all of the campgrounds in the White River, including the amenities they offer, fee information and their scheduled closing dates.

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