TAKE ACTION: Comment on the Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area Management Plan

posted November 1, 2017
by Kestrel Kunz

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ARKANSAS RIVER, Colo. - The Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area (AHRA) is revising their Management Plan for the first time since 2001. The AHRA’s Management Plan governs the operation and management of the 152 mile Arkansas River corridor from Leadville to Lake Pueblo, including the nation’s most popular rafting destinations, such as The Numbers, Browns Canyon, The Royal Gorge, and 3 different whitewater parks. The new Draft Plan was made publicly available in October and the AHRA is accepting public comments through November 10, 2017 (next week!).

The AHRA’s Management Plan governs many different aspects of the Arkansas River corridor, including recreation facilities and river access sites, commercial launch windows and outfitter permits, and the regulation of boating capacities - all of which could change in the 2018 Management Plan. The new Draft Plan and Environmental Assessment presents 4 different alternatives (i.e., management options):

- The No Action Alternative would revert to the 2001 Management Plan, without making any changes.

- Alternative 1 proposes to significantly decrease private boating capacities in Segment 1 (Leadville to Buena Vista), while making modest site improvements and new developments.

- Alternative 2 and the Proposed Action are nearly identical save for some slight differences in boating capacities and use-season dates. Both Alternative 2 and the Proposed Action moderately decrease private boating capacities in Segment 1, while proposing significant site improvements, and new developments and land acquisitions throughout the river corridor.

All action alternatives include language to regulate boating capacities through user education, a voluntary online registration system, and a potential day-use permitting system.

In order to design effective and productive comments, American Whitewater has thoroughly reviewed the Draft Plan, discussed the Plan with our local Affiliate Clubs, attended AHRA Public Open Houses, and reached out to key members of the local paddling community. To make it easy for you to SUBMIT YOUR COMMENTS, American Whitewater staff have compiled our key concerns and comments for your review (see below). You can simply copy and paste them into the appropriate submission windows, however, we highly encourage you to take the time to review the Draft Plan and Environmental Assessment yourself; in particular, Table 2-7 (pp. 2-22 to 2-32), Table 2-8 (p. 2-35), Table 2-9 (p. 2-36), and Section (p. 2-39) which summarize the site acquisition and development, boating capacities, use seasons, and the implementation process for a potential permitting system.

There will also be an opportunity to submit comments at Colorado Whitewater’s Fall Dinner on November 7 in Golden, Colorado. Rob White, Colorado Parks and Wildlife Manager, will be at the dinner and there will be opportunities to ask Rob questions and submit your comments directly at the event. You can get your tickets HERE for just $25 for CW members and $30 for non-members. The event includes dinner from Bonfire Burritos, beer provided by Good River Beer, and special attendance by river guide and author, Tom Martin.

If you have additional questions or concerns regarding the AHRA and their Draft Plan, you can contact Leslie Tyson or Mark Robbins, both of whom have been representing private boaters in the AHRA’s Citizen Task Force for the past 10 years.

Leslie Tyson: 303-477-3861; lesanntyson@msn.com          

Mark Robbins: 970-420-3901; mrobbins@frii.com 

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

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Senator Udall Introduces Browns Canyon of The Arkansas River Legislation
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