Stakeholders Addressing Weber River Rafting Between Henefer And Taggart
A meeting of stakeholders on Wednesday looked at the problems around a stretch of the Weber River, from Summit to Morgan County, that’s becoming overcrowded with users during the warm months.
Summit County Council member Kim Carson says they had a productive session, as they’re responding to items like rowdy behavior, drunkenness and garbage.
Carson told KPCW that the meeting included two members of the Morgan County Council, Mike Newton and Tina Cannon; a local ecologist, Sarah Jo Dickinson; two managers of river-running companies; and representatives from Trout Unlimited and the Utah Division of Natural Resources.
The section of the river in question runs from Henefer to Taggart in Morgan County, or the Hen-Tag Reach for short.
One question has been determining who had jurisdiction over the problems. Carson said that, actually, they all do.
“At the put in which is just on this side of the Summit County line, we have UDOT that owns some property where people access the river. We have the division of wildlife resources that owns a section of river. Once you get on the river, you have a number of different landowners who are primarily ranchers or farmers or just property owners along the way. People sometimes disrespect their properties and then others take advantage of it and have a station where people can stop, and you know they'll sell things to them that they may be in need of. Then at the take out that property is owned actually by Morgan County but it's never been proved.”
Carson said that, as a result of the meeting, their neighbors in Morgan are looking at several solutions.
“Morgan County, we have Mike Newton proposing to his counsel hopefully on their agenda next week to have them do some minor development of their property at the takeout. Provide garbage receptacle's, not restroom facilities but at least porta potties and signage. Then improve the parking area there. He's going to ask for a budget of about $10,000 to complete those initial improvements on that area.”
On the Summit County side, they’re working to draft some language for signs to put recreationists on notice.
“We're going to have an initial part of actual enforceable items such as littering, public intoxication, requirement for life jacket, and then underneath that put what people's general responsibilities are. Things that they should be doing on the river, but we really don't have any code to enforce it at this point.”
The long-term solution includes ways to come up with revenue to implement enforcement.
“One thing we talked about is charging for parking at the takeout. That would create them revenue for them. We've also talked about creating a conservation area in that area and having tags required to be able to float. No matter what you use your flotation devices it would have to have a conservation tag on it. Then those conservation tag monies could be distributed amongst the entities that are providing the support services.”
Carson said the county will also work on its mapping. That’s to better identify who owns property along the river, where to post signs and to pinpoint their problem spot.
For instance, Carson said that in Croydon, on the Morgan side, a low bridge sometimes makes it difficult for river-runners, and they have to portage around it on foot.
“There's some real safety issues there. Where people come out and you know they need to get over a railroad track, or under a railroad track and a major roadway where you have truck traffic coming and going from the lost Creek area and the Croydon cement plant. So we really need to look at that area and see how we can have safer passage for those that are using that as a portage.”
Carson added that the local deputies in both counties, and the Highway Patrol have done blitzes in the past of DUI violators. They want to streamline that process.
Finally, they want to be more comprehensive about regulating vendors on the river.
“The commercial operators do have to register with the state. However those that just go and provide like rent tubes there at the parking lot at put in. They are not required to have a commercial license or be regulated in anyways. So, we would like to have them be considered a livery. That would help provide more regulation as far as those that go up and rent the tubes.”
Carson said their next meeting will be during the first week of June.