Proposed boating cap at Shoshone in Glenwood Canyon sparks few concerns
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado
GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” The U.S. Forest Service received just a few public comments about a proposal to cap the number of commercial boating trips through the Shoshone rapids on the Colorado River in Glenwood Canyon.
A 30-day public comment period on the proposal ended Friday.
Among comments the proposal elicited, an outfitter in Glenwood said the limit was too restrictive. However, Brian Lloyd, district ranger for the Eagle/Holy Cross Ranger District of the White River National Forest, said the outfitter doesn’t operate on the Colorado River and thought the cap would prevent him from doing so.
“His comment was basically that he was being locked out of an opportunity for a permit to run at the river because we’re at capacity, basically,” Lloyd said. “He said that all the guys on the Colorado are big outfitters and there’s no room for small outfitters.”
A private citizen in Eagle also submitted a comment, calling the proposed cap on commercial user days too high, Lloyd said.
A response from the Western Slope River Guides Association requested more information about the proposal and made it clear the association didn’t want a lower limit, Lloyd said.
“It was very sensitive about having the numbers reduced because the demand is there,” he said.
Before the public comment period, the Colorado Division of Wildlife told the Forest Service it was concerned about access for anglers at the Grizzly Creek put-in in the canyon, Lloyd said. At issue was a concrete post on a put-in ramp that anglers weren’t able to lift boats over. The post was installed to prevent vehicles from using the ramp out of concerns about pedestrian and bike safety.
In response, river rangers will put in a shorter post each day at 9 a.m. and take it out at 4:30 p.m. during the peak commercial boating season, Lloyd said.
The DOW also told the Forest Service that the commercial cap was too high.
“They thought the cap was more than ample,” Lloyd said. “They actually would recommend having a smaller cap.”
The comments came in response to a Forest Service proposal to cap the number of commercial rafting user days through the Shoshone rapids in Glenwood Canyon at 71,500 annually. There would be another 750 days for commercial kayaking, and 1,100 user days for institutional users such as colleges, that could be applied for on a temporary basis.
Those figures, plus an option outfitters have to use up to 10 percent more user days in a year than what is permitted, add up to a proposed “theoretical maximum” of around 81,000 user days per year, Lloyd said.
“We’ve never approached that,” he said, adding that in 2007, outfitters used about 65,500 commercial user days.
A user day is one person on a guided trip for any part of a day.
The only real difference between what’s currently permitted by the Forest Service and the proposed cap is the addition of 1,100 institutional user days, Lloyd said.
The next step, Lloyd said, is to consider modifying the proposal in response to the comments. A decision notice will come out probably within a few weeks. There’s a 30-day window to appeal the decision after the notice.
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