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The Arkansas River Headwaters Area is planning to initiate a permit system for the Browns Canyon section of the river beginning in 2002. They are preceding with the permit system with very little input from the private boating community. They had a public meeting in Salida to explain the proposed system, but no effort was made to alert the private boating interests. It was only by luck that we found out about it. The meeting was held on November 15th and a few people from Denver and Colorado Springs were able to attend. The structure of the meeting was mainly to inform interested parties of the system with very little effort made to allow input from private boaters.
The system would require private boaters to acquire a permit before being able to float Browns Canyon on weekends and holidays from May 25th to September 7th. The structure for the system has not been finalized, but currently it would be a $10 permit fee ( in addition to the $2 per person day fee ) for each raft. There would be a maximum of 150 private boats per day allowed in the canyon. This is rafts and kayaks. Both are considered a boat , but the fee for kayaks would be only $5 per day. The system will probably be a combination of web and phone access to obtain a permit. The time period would start early in the season and continue to the day of the trip. Locations for obtaining the permit other than by mail have not been selected.
The decision to implement the system was based on the number of private boaters per day this past season. The management plan for the river states that if the number of boats exceeds 75% of the 150 per day maximum set by the management plan for five times, the permit system would be initiated.
During the 2001 season, the number of private boaters did exceed 75% of the 150 per day maximum for five times. The numbers are as follows:
  May 27th
June 10th
July 1st
July 14th
July 28th
164 boats
108 boats
152 boats
156 boats
118 boats
109% of capacity
The numbers went down dramatically after these dates.
In summary, they want to establish an expensive and potentially inconvenient system on the private boating community based on three days of the season, the number of boats exceeded the set limit by 22.
We have a chance to stop the proposal before it is put into effect. The State Parks Board will be meeting in December to hear comments and make decisions on proposals. The board has a reputation of listening to the opinions of those to be affected by rulings ( unlike members of the Arkansas Headwaters group ) and if we can show strong opposition to the proposed system, it may not pass.
I urge everyone to write to the board:

Colorado State Parks Board
1313 Sherman Street Room 618
Denver, Co 80203

The letters must be received before December 13th. The meeting will be held in Ft. Collins on the 14th. If people can attend to show opposition in mass it would be helpful. Keep checking the web site for details of the meeting on the 14th.
-John Green
Click here for more info on the permit system.
American Whitewater River Access Information.
The Grand Canyon Management Plan changes.
Living Rivers News

High Country River Rafters - P.O. Box 317 Wheat Ridge, CO, 80034-0317
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