Eagle County open space funds boost river access for Routt County floaters | SteamboatToday.com

Eagle County open space funds boost river access for Routt County floaters

Steamboat Today

— The stretch of the Colorado River across the Routt County line in Eagle County was the salvation of public and private rafters during the summer drought of 2012, as agricultural water calls from far downstream kept the river at floatable levels. Now, Eagle County is taking steps to increase public access to the river below State Bridge at Colorado Highway 131.

Writing in the Vail Daily, Randy Wyrick reports that Eagle has purchased land and opened three new river access points on the lightly used 45-mile stretch of river. The latest is the Dotsero access near where the river intersects Interstate 70 at its confluence with the Eagle River. Earlier this year, Eagle County opened the 10-acre State Bridge access at a cost of $1.4 million and the 17-acre Two Bridges access (also known as the Cochran property four miles downstream from State Bridge) at a cost of $690,000.

The new Dotsero site cost $650,000, and comes with a $3 access fee to cover maintenance costs. The funding source for all three was Eagle County's voter-approved open space fund.

County open space coordinator Toby Sprunk told the Vail Daily that three more river access points are in the planning stages.

During the third week in July this year, the commercial tubing industry in Steamboat was high and dry because of low flows on the town stretch of the Yampa River. However, the Colorado below Gore Canyon was flowing at 1,070 cubic feet per second, almost 100 cfs above its historic average for the date. Bucking Rainbow Outfitters in Steamboat reported it was doing "fantastic" business guiding full-day floats between the BLM's Pumphouse put-in down to State Bridge with as many as 60 clients per day.

That stretch of the river sees heavy use, according to Wyrick's article, with 65,000 river visits annually. Relying on stats from the BLM, he wrote that the river section below State Bridge sees 5,000 river visits.

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To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email tross@SteamboatToday.com

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