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Comments Needed on Changes to Pumphouse and Gore Canyon (CO) Management!

Posted: 03/20/2019
by Evan Stafford

The Kremmling Field Office of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has released preliminary plans to update their Special Recreation Area Management Plan for the Upper Colorado River from Parshall to State Bridge. We need the paddling community to speak up for our interests regarding proposed changes to the management of this reach, which includes Gore Canyon and the Pumphouse to State Bridge sections. We make it super easy to comment with our easy action templated forms and we’ll hand deliver your message to the BLM. These sections of river see high private and commercial use, in addition to hosting the American Whitewater Gore Canyon Festival every August. 
 
The BLM is hoping to address impacts on the river corridor as a result of unregulated camping, hiking, and ever-increasing visitor numbers. They have outlined three alternatives in their draft environmental assessment. Comments on these alternatives are due March 23, 2019. Click here for the full documents
 
Under current management, the BLM collects parking fees at Pumphouse, Radium and State Bridge recreation areas. These are all highly used boat access points. Camping along the river is on a first come first serve basis. Hiking in to Radium Warm Springs (on the river between Pumphouse and Radium) is unregulated. Under the BLM's preferred alternative the parking fees would be replaced with a self-issued day use permit for all users (boaters, hikers, wade fishermen, etc.). Camping permits would be required and available through recreation.gov. Camping would not be allowed in Gore Canyon and would be confined to designated sites between Pumphouse to State Bridge. Below is a short summary of management changes under each alternative and a few pros and cons as to how they would affect the boating community. We make it super easy to submit a comment about these changes with our easy action templated form
 
Alternative A: No Action
- Same management as current
 
Pros
People can continue to use the resource as they are used to
No change in fee structure
Cons 
Does not address impacts of camping outside designated sites and "camp-grabbing" days in advance of use. 
The BLM and AW won’t have access to more specific user rates made possible by day use permits that could help with future management decisions.
 
Alternative B: 
- Camping permits required for overnight boaters (through recreation.gov)
- Camping only on designated sites within 1/4 mi of river on this same stretch (25 total sites; 6 sites Pumphouse>Radium, 11 sites Radium>Rancho, 4 sites Rancho>State Bridge)
- No camping allowed in Gore Canyon within 1/4 mi of river
- No camping allowed at Gore Canyon Ranch (3/4 mi south on Trough Rd. from Pumphouse turn off)
- Pumphouse campground expanded to accommodate RV campers
- No day use permits
 
Pros 
Limiting 'camp-grabbing' and camping in non-designated sites
Cons 
Doesn't address camping impacts from hikers
No camping in Gore Canyon 
The BLM and AW won’t have access to more specific user rates made possible by day use permits that could help with future management decisions.
Change from current fee structure
 
Alternative C (BLM’s Preferred Alternative):
- Day use permits unlimited and self-issued but required for all users (floatboaters, wade anglers, warm spring users, hikers, etc.). Permits would be required April 1-October 31
- Camping permits same as Alt B 
- No camping allowed within 1/4 mi of the river in Gore Canyon
- No camping allowed at Gore Canyon Ranch (3/4 mi south on Trough Rd. from Pumphouse turn off)  
- Same Pumphouse campground expansion for RVs
 
Pros 
Limiting 'camp-grabbing' and camping in non-designated sites
Permits for hikers
Potential for user data to monitor the quality of the river and experience
 
Cons 
No camping in Gore Canyon
Change from current fee structure
 
 
The BLM will put together a separate business plan before issuing any changes to the current fee system. There will be another chance for public comment at that time. The exact process of obtaining the self issuing permits is not yet defined. These aspects of the updated plan will have an impact of all boaters on this reach. It is important to include in your comments how such updates may affect your trips to the Upper Colorado.  
Evan Stafford
516 Stover Street
Fort Collins, CO 80524
Phone: 970-420-5377