Rafting company asks to expand tours

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A commercial rafting business wants to increase the number of rafts it can have on the Elk River from 20 a day to 30. It also wants to add another put-in location for the rafts.

The request from Bucking Rainbow Outfitters, which owns High Adventure Rafting, goes before the Routt County Regional Planning Commission tonight. The Planning Commission will make the final decision on the permit.

About 35 people own property along the six-mile stretch of the Elk River that the business uses for raft trips, and all were notified about the proposal.

The planning report includes letters from seven owners who oppose the amendments or the entire operation.

Those owners expressed concerns about issues including noise, trespassing, additional road and river traffic, a decrease in the tranquility of the area, and negative effects on wildlife.

Three owners sent letters saying they support or do not oppose the amended operation.

Also, the three property owners who own the land where rafts are put in or taken out said the use is authorized.

Bucking Rainbow Outfitters has had a commercial rafting business on the Elk River for the past several years, according to the planning report. The company got a permit for the operation in 2000 and renewed it in 2002. That permit expires at the end of this month.

The second put-in site Bucking Rainbow Outfitters is requesting would be about 1.5 miles up river from the Elk River Guest Ranch, which is the current put-in site. The extra put-in site would extend the trip from 45 minutes to one hour.

The applicant also is requesting that the permit reviewed only every five years.

According to the planning report, raft trips occur three to four times a day with between one and six boats for each trip.

The business uses two 15-passenger vans to shuttle guests up and down Seedhouse Road, according to the report. The vans usually run three times a day.

One general question the application brings up is whether it is trespassing to use a river where it crosses through private property. County planner Jim Goossens said his understanding as that as long as someone is moving along a river and not standing on the ground, it is not considered trespassing.

Also tonight, the Planning Commission will consider a request from Xcel Energy to haul as much as 900,000 tons of coal a year on 13.5 miles of Routt County Road 27.

The Routt County Planning Commission meets at 6 p.m. in the Commissioners Hearing Room of the Courthouse Annex.

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