Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area Management Plan Update Synopsis

06/17/2016 5:53 PM | Anonymous

Note from CW: If you boat the Arkansas River or just simply care about it, please read this important notice and follow the instructions to make your opinion count. 

NOTE: This synopsis is only meant to highlight AHRA Management Plan options relevant to the private boating community. It does not completely describe all of the options, and is only a limited selection of the highlights relevant to the private boating community. For a complete description of the changes / options, see the AHRA website at:

http://cpw.state.co.us/placestogo/parks/ArkansasHeadwatersRecreationArea/Documents/Plan/Preliminary-Chapters1-2_Appendices.pdf

YOUR INPUT INTO THIS PROCESS IS IMPORTANT. YOUR COMMENTS MAY BE RELATED TO ANY OF THE ALTERNATIVES. Once public input is complete the AHRA will generate a ‘Preferred Alternative’, in which the AHRA may choose to implement one of the Alternatives defined below, no Alternative (no change), or a combination of the Alternatives. 

HERE IS WHERE YOU CAN COMMENT: https://www.research.net/r/AHRA_alternatives 

OR EMAIL:  dnr_cpw_planning@state.co.us 

Take a look at the map that shows the management section boundaries:

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1UYqCL70uvntzdkQPFzEkhNx5hdE&usp=sharing

Alternative descriptions in brief (see section Section 2.3.1 for more detail): 

No Change (aka Alternative 3): “The No Action alternative continues current recreation and multiple use goals and management practices described in the 2001 Plan ... Although no new initiatives would be implemented under a No Action alternative, minor adjustments would be made periodically to respond to changing needs or emerging challenges consistent with the current adaptive management program.” 

Alternative 1: “This alternative would continue current management practices with the goal of maintaining current recreation setting characteristics while moderately changing site development and boating capacities to respond to identified issues and new needs.” 

Alternative 2: “Alternative 2 is the most ambitious of the three alternatives evaluated, and would expand recreation opportunities and beneficial outcomes to a greater number of participants at additional locations. As with the other alternatives, current management practices that remain relevant and effective would remain in place supplemented by new initiatives to address emerging issues and challenges.” 

NOTE: Capacities are in bpd = ‘Boats per Day’- not people. AHRA has long used boat counts rather than user counts because the private landowner and fisherman experience is more closely tied to the number of boats than the number of people per boat. This will not change in any of the alternatives. 

Section Management Changes: 

1. Section 1 Summary: Both alternatives reduce private boater capacities- Alternative 1 significantly; Alternative 2 by more modest amounts. The rational given is that the historical capacities were significantly over allocated and that the new numbers reflect the actual use better. No detailed boat counts have been done for section 1. Both Alternative 1 & 2 break previous section 1A (from Leadville/Confluence to Granite) into three sections: 1A – Confluence to Highway 24 bridge; 1B – from Hwy 24 to Kobe; 1C- from Kobe to Granite. The remaining sections remain the same but are re-numbered to reflect the new division. See map linked above for details. 

2. Section 1A: Private boat capacities reduced from 10 bpd to 0 bpd in both alternatives. This is a difficult section to access and this is a reasonable accommodation for this excellent fishing section. Under Alternative 1 site development would be restricted to fishing habitat restoration, and under Alternative 2 the Crystal Lakes site would be improved. 

3. Section 1B: Private boat capacities remain at 10 bpd in Alternative 1 and are increased to 20 bpd in Alternative 2. Generally there is only enough water to boat this class II section at high flows; even then it is a tricky section for beginner boaters- the river is quite braided and there are many strainers. This is also an excellent fishing section. Under Alternative 1 new land acquisition would be considered to be designated as open space along with habitat restoration; Alternative 2 would consider adding trails and a new access site. 

4. Section 1C: Private boat capacities remain at 10 bpd in Alternative 1 and are increased to 20 bpd in Alternative 2. Commercial capacities are also increased to 20 bpd in Alternative 2. This class II section is more amenable to beginning boaters, but is more continuous than section 1B. This is also an excellent fishing section. Alternative 1 would consider new acquisitions and habitat restoration; Alternative 2 would add trail access, improve parking at Granite and improve the Granite Rock site. 

5. Section 1D (Granite run, including Pine Creek rapid): In season private boat capacities would be reduced from 350bpd to 150 bpd in Alternative 1, and 250bpd in Alternative 2. Off season capacities would be reduced to 150bpd in Alternative 1 (down from 200bpd). Commercial capacities would remain unchanged at 30bpd. Season dates would remain unchanged in Alternative 1 (In season: May 15 – Sept 7), and would be changed in Alternative 2 (In season: May 1 – Sept 7) to accommodate commercial boating. The commercial launch window would remain unchanged: 8:30am to 11:00am. No new land acquisitions would be considered in Alternative 1. Alternative 2 would consider new land acquisitions (clear creek in particular), improve existing sites, and install a boat chute and fish ladder at the Granite Diversion Structure. 

6. Section 1E (Numbers): In season private boat capacities would be reduced from 320bpd to 150 bpd in Alternative 1, and 250bpd in Alternative 2. Off season capacities would be reduced to 150bpd in Alternative 1 (down from 200bpd). Commercial capacities in season would remain unchanged at 90bpd. Season dates would remain unchanged in Alternative 1 (In season: May 15 – Sept 7), and would be changed in Alternative 2 (In season: May 1 – Sept 7) to accommodate commercial boating. In Alternative 1 the commercial launch window would be reduced: 8:30am to 1:00pm (currently 2:00pm), in Alternative 2 the commercial launch window would remain unchanged. Both alternatives would develop the Arkansas River Placer site (just upstream from #1) to include a campground, restroom/changing facilities, boat ramp and parking- this would be an AHRA fee site. 

7. Section 1F (Fractions & Frog Rock runs): Private boat capacities would remain unchanged at 150bpd in season and 100bpd off season for both Alternatives 1 & 2. Season dates would remain unchanged in Alternative 1 (In season: May 15 – Sept 7), and would be changed in Alternative 2 (In season: May 1 – Sept 7) to accommodate commercial boating. Site improvement would be considered at Elephant Rock in Alternative 2, along with other minimal site improvements in both Alternatives 1 & 2. 

8. Section 2A (BV town run & Milk run): Private boat capacities would remain unchanged at 150bpd in season and 100bpd off season for both Alternatives 1 & 2. Season dates would remain unchanged in Alternative 1 (In season: May 15 – Sept 7), and would be changed in Alternative 2 (In season: May 1 – Sept 7) to accommodate commercial boating. The ‘Buena Vista Open Boating Zone’ from 600 feet above the Midland Trail foot bridge to the Ramsour bridge (below South Main) would be exempt from private boat capacity restrictions. Land acquisition and site development would aim to develop 1 new site under Alternative 1, and two new sites under Alternative 2. Alternative 2 would also aim to contribute to the continuing build out of the Buena Vista Whitewater Park and associated event spaces. 

9. Section 2B (Brown’s Canyon run): Private boat capacities would remain unchanged at 150bpd weekdays, 240bpd weekends in season and 100bpd off season for both Alternatives 1 & 2. Season dates would remain unchanged in Alternative 1 (In season: May 15 – Sept 7), and would be changed in Alternative 2 (In season: May 1 – Sept 7) to accommodate commercial boating. Both Alternatives 1 & 2 envision the following site improvements / management changes (subject to decisions of the Browns Canyon National Monument management plan): 

a. Acquire &/or retire mining claims to be designated as open space 

b. Apply monitoring and adaptive management to dispersed camping & picnic sites in Browns Canyon; no fire rings or benches; no new sites would be allowed. 

c. If camping demand exceeds existing site capacity a reservation system for camping may be implemented. 

d. Upgrade the ramp at Fisherman’s bridge. 

10. Section 2C: Private boat capacities would remain unchanged at 150bpd in season for both Alternatives 1 & 2; Alternative 2 would increase off season private boat capacities from 30bpd to 50bpd. Season dates would remain unchanged in Alternative 1 (In season: May 15 – August 15), and would be changed in Alternative 2 (In season: May 15 – Sept 7) to accommodate commercial boating. This is generally a good fishing section and is managed to provide a better fishing experience in the off season. Alternative 1 would envision acquiring one property for open space, while Alternative 2 would not envision any land acquisition. 

11. Section 2D (Big Bend to Salida East- was Salida): Private boat capacities would remain unchanged at 150bpd in season for both Alternatives 1 & 2; Alternative 2 would increase off season private boat capacities from 30bpd to 50bpd. Season dates would remain unchanged in both Alternatives 1 & 2 (In season: May 15 – August 15). Under Alternatives 1 & 2, the ‘Salida Open Boating Zone’ starting at the low head dam above Salida would be extended to Salida East (currently ends at Salida riverside park) and would be exempt from private boat capacity restrictions. This is generally a good fishing section and is managed to provide a better fishing experience in the off season. Alternative 1 site improvements/acquisition: 

a. Add camping at Big Bend 

b. Improve boat ramp for deeper water 

c. Continue build out of paved multi-use trail 

Alternative 2 site improvements/acquisition- Alternative 1 plus: 

d. BMX park at Big Bend OHV area 

e. Acquire site for boat ramp and angling access 

f. Continue build out of Salida Whitwater park in cooperation with partners 

12. Section 3A (Salida East to Rincon): Both Alternatives divide the previous section 3 (from Salida to Vallie Bridge) into sections 3A and 3B (Rincon to Vallie Bridge). This allows for more private boat use in the section as a whole, and this management scheme has been implemented for the past few years and verified to have little impact on the fishing experience in section 3. Private boat capacities would remain unchanged at 150bpd in season for both Alternatives 1 & 2; Alternative 1 would increase off season private boat capacities from 30bpd to 50bpd on weekends only. Alternative 2 would increase off season private boat capacities from 30bpd to 50bpd every day of the week. Season dates would be extended in both Alternatives 1 & 2 (In season: May 15 – August 15; was July 15). This is generally a good fishing section and is managed to provide a better fishing experience in the off season. Alternative 1 site improvements/acquisition: 

a. Walk/boat in day use north of Salida East. 

b. 12 primitive campsites at Point Barr; AHRA reservations & primitive camping fees 

c. Improved camping and facilities at Salida East, AHRA reservations & standard camping fees. Alternative 2 site improvements/acquisition- Alternative 1 plus: 

d. Point Barr camping would be improved to ‘moderate’ status rather than primitive. 

13. Section 3B (Rincon to Vallie Bridge). Private boater capacities & seasons the same as section 3A above. Alternative 1 would not have any site improvements. Alternative 2 would acquire property and construct a river access site similar to Rincon. 

14. Section 4A (Vallie Bridge to Texas Creek). Private boater capacities & seasons would remain the same as in the current plan: 100bpd in season, 30bpd off season; in season dates May 15 – August 15. 

15. Section 4B (Texas Creek to Parkdale- Parkdale run). Private boater capacities would remain the same as in the current plan: 150bpd in season, 40bpd off season. Alternative 1 would keep the in-season dates the same (May 15 – Sept. 7), while Alternative 2 would extend the in-season dates to May 1 – Sept 7, primarily for commercial outfitter training. 

16. Section 5 (Parkdale to Canyon City- Royal Gorge run). Private boater capacities and seasons would change as shown in the table below: 


Alternative 1 site improvements/acquisition: 

a. Acquire and construct a new highly developed river access site (Canyon City? Pink House?) 

b. Extension of Tunnel Drive as a multi-use trail in cooperation with Canyon City. 

c. Continued build out of Riverwalk multi-use trail in cooperation with Canyon City. 

d. Reconstruct existing dams/diversions to provide fish ladder & boat chute Alternative 2 site improvements/acquisition- Alternative 1 plus work with Canyon City to develop whitewater park. 

17. Section 6 (Canyon City to Pueblo Reservoir): Private boat capacities would remain at 40bpd year round. Multiple acquisitions & improvements are envisioned in both Alternatives including new river access and boat chute development.


The Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area (AHRA) citizens task force (CTF) has been functioning since 1990 as an advisory group to the BLM river manager and the state park manager.

The role of the citizens task force is to:

  • Provide advice to AHRA in application of the recreation management guidelines developed from the standards for public land health
  • Assist AHRA in maintaining a watershed focus
  • Provide recommendations to AHRA on growth, value, and potential development issues within the recreation area
  • Assist AHRA in resolving other management problems along the river corridor as they arise
  • Assist in providing an open communication link to all interested parties affected by management decisions
  • Provide support to the AHRA management plan and implementation of plan goals and objectives.
The citizens task force is composed of seven representative groups with fourteen members:

1. Two anglers (representing all fishing types-fly, bait, lure, etc.)

2. Two commercial permittees (AHRA agreement holder in good standing)

3. Two private boaters (representing all boating types—kayak, Raft, etc.)

4. Two environmentalists (representing environmental organizations)

5. Two water users (representing all types, i.e. municipal, agriculture, industrial, etc.)

6. Two river front property owners (representing ranching and non-ranching river properties)

7. Two local government representatives (Upper Ark Council of Governments member)

The private boater representatives are CW members Mark Robbins and Leslie Tyson.


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