Private Boaters at Arkansas Headwaters
The Arkansas River is very popular for private and commercial boaters alike. The Arkansas River Recreation Management Plan (ARRMP) establishes capacities for the number of boats per day (bpd) allowed on weekdays, weekends and holidays for commercial as well as private boaters. Capacities are also based on "high use" and "low use" seasons. This measure is to protect and preserve the resource and the recreation experience of all users.
The Management Plan also mandates when use exceeds capacities, AHRA must investigate management options to alleviate the number of boats. For commercial outfitters, this involves "rationing". For private boaters, this could involve a permit system for any section of the river where capacities have been exceeded more than 5 days during a year. With rafting and kayaking becoming more and more popular with private recreationists, sections of the Arkansas River, in particular Section 3 from Salida to Vallie Bridge (below Howard), are seeing an increase in use that is exceeding private boat capacities.
AHRA and commercial and private boaters and their organizations were successful in avoiding a private boat permit system in Browns Canyon by educating private boaters to boat Browns on weekdays if possible, since most of the use occurs on weekends. We also advised alternative sections of the Arkansas River that will still give private boaters a premier whitewater experience. In addition, commercial outfitters agreed to give 90 bpd of their Browns Canyon capacity to private boat capacity on weekends and holidays from May 15 - September 7 in exchange for incremental increases in commercial use in Section 1c (Numbers).
At this time, AHRA, the AHRA Citizen Task Force, and commercial and private boaters and their organizations are reviewing private boat use for Section 3 during the "low use" season of July 15 - May 14, when bpd capacities drop from 150 private bpd to 30 private bpd. Our goal is to work out the best solution that would follow ARRMP guidelines to provide for a quality experience for all river users while at the same time protecting the resource.
View the AHRA River Safety Brochure and Maps.
Browns Canyon Private Boater Counts
Section 3 Salida to Vallie Bridge Private Boater Counts
2010 Section 3 Private Boater Report
2011 Private Boater Count All Sections