Agency’s Resource Advisory Council to meet March 6-8 in Montrose
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY —A federal plan to raise day use fees at two popular Upper Colorado River recreation sites doesn’t sit well with the state’s river rafting industry, which questions whether planned improvements are really needed, and if any fee hikes are a good idea during tough economic times.
At issue is a Bureau of Land Management proposal to up the daily fees at the Pumphouse and Radium sites from $3 to $5 per vehicle, as well as a small hike for commercial users, who make up the bulk of the use at the sites, from $1 to $1.25 per day.
“The river is popular because it’s affordable,” said Dave Costlow, executive director of the Colorado River Outfitters Association, explaining that a half-day run down the relatively gentle waters of the reach costs about $45 per person. “If you have a family of five, it all adds up,” Costlow said, describing it as a 25 percent increase that will be passed on to consumers. The BLM already gets 3 percent of every ticket sold, he added.
“I wonder if we could just manage to the money that we have. It’s a bad time to raise prices. The money people spend on rafting is discretionary spending,” he said. “Maybe they could cut elsewhere to find money for the new boat ramp.”
The increase is one of the agenda items at a March 7-8 meeting of the agency’s regional Resource Advisory Council in Montrose. The statewide Resource Advisory Council will also meet in Montrose (March 6-8) to consider other matters.
The additional fees at the Colorado River sites would boost the BLM’s revenue for the two sites by about $27,000, helping to boost services and possibly add new boating facilities. Additional road repair will help ease access to popular spots, and the BLM also plans to add a new storage facility and publish a new guide to the Upper Colorado.
The fee increase is the first since the sites were added to the fee program in 1998 under what was then called the Rec Fee Demo Program. Under the proposed changes, the site could also be accessible under various national recreation and interagency passes.
Commercial rafting makes up a bit more than half of the total recreational use (about 34,000 visits) along the Upper Colorado, with 55 different outfitters licensed to operate. In 2011, commercial boating trips accounted for about 39,000 user days on the Upper Colorado; private boaters numbered about 21,000.
The statewide advisory council meeting will cover a wide range of topics, including an update on new fracking rules, as well as greater sage-grouse conservation planning.
Get all the details and full agendas at this BLM website.
Filed under: BLM, boating, Colorado, public lands, recreation, rivers, Summit County Colorado, Summit County news Tagged: | Bureau of Land management, Colorado, Colorado River, rafting, recreation, recreation fees, Upper Colorado