Update on boat passage at Utah's Tusher Dam

posted January 7, 2017
by Nathan Fey

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Following our recent update on the Green River’s Tusher Dam, American Whitewater sent a letter on December 16 to the National Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) expressing our concerns about the Green River Tusher Diversion Rehabilitation Project. We requested status updates on the ongoing construction, installation of boater warning signs, and to express our interest in developing the ‘Flow Allocation Agreement’ outlined in the Project's Final Environmental Impact Assessment. While we are still waiting to hear back from the NRCS, we’ve had some very helpful communication with the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire, and State Lands (FFSL). The Division is responsible for managing the beds of navigable waters in the state, including the section of the Green River at the diversion structure, and ensuring that those surface waters are open and accessible to the public.

In talking with the FFSL it has become apparent that:

-        The FFSL is working hard to see that construction at the diversion structure is completed and that the boat passage is open to the public by the end of this month.  

-        The current ‘boat passage closure’ signs at Nefertiti and Swasey’s boat launches will be replaced with the proper signage as soon as construction is complete.

-        Since the ‘closure’ signs were put in place, the Green River Canal Company and Bowen Collins Engineering partnered with Holiday River Expeditions to test the safety of the boat passage; they found the passage to be reasonably safe (no retentive hole) at a range of flows.

-        The FFSL assured American Whitewater that they take the State Navigability requirement very seriously, and will work with local water users to ensure that the boat passage remains open after current construction is complete.  

At this time, we would like to thank the FFSL and local water users at the diversion dam for their ongoing support to ensure that the Green River Diversion Dam is safe and navigable for both boaters and fish. We are currently working to improve boater representation at the water users’ meetings on dam-related issues, and will be looking for a local volunteer to represent the boating community occasionally at meetings in Green River, UT.

Moving forward, we hope to continue to have productive conversations with the NRCS, UT FFSL, and other parties involved in the Rehabilitation Project regarding the management and operation of the diversion dam, and the boat and fish passages.

As construction comes to a close this month, we look forward to announcing the final completion of the new diversion structure and opening of the boat passage.

For now, due to the ongoing construction at the site, we ask that paddlers respect the current closure of the boat passage and make the appropriate plans to take out upstream of the Diversion Dam. Once the passage is open – the FFSL would still encourage boaters to approach the boat passage with caution, as there is a standing wave that exists at most flows (see photo).

Photo: Tusher Dam undergoing final phase of construction (~ 3000 cfs) – January 5, 2017 – Eli Tome, FFSL

Colorado Stewardship Director
Nathan Fey
1601 Longs Peak Ave.
Longmont, CO 80501
Phone: 303-859-8601