Green Mountain Reservoir gives gift to boaters
HEENEY – Kayakers and rafting companies should be smiling.
Recent releases from Green Mountain Reservoir have raised water levels on the Lower Blue Reservoir and the Colorado River, due to water demands from Shoshone Power Plant and ranching facilities.
The Upper Colorado River is fed by the Lower Blue.
“For the Lower Blue right now, releases are up to 500-700 cfs (cubic feet per second) for the next few weeks,” said Kara Lamb of the Bureau of Reclamation, which controls water releases from Green Mountain Reservoir. “The releases will also play into the Upper Colorado. It’s a steady release.”
The Lower Blue was running at 60 cfs before the release.
The Lower Blue is not accessible for commercial rafting, and private rafts are difficult to get down to the river due to the steep embankment at the put-in area. Kayakers, however, are thrilled at the new options the Green Mountain releases have provided.
“It’s a great flow (on the Lower Blue),” said Earl Richmond, co-owner of Colorado Kayak Supply, which operates out of Silverthorne and Nathrop.
“It has to be at 250 (cfs) to kayak. To have it around 700 (cfs) is great. This has brought a lot of people up to Summit County to paddle on the weekends. The Green Mountain release is awesome. People absolutely love it. Basically, the release on the Lower Blue allows kayakers to recreate there, and it makes kayaking, rafting … everything better on the Upper Colorado.”
The increased flow into the Colorado River arrives at an opportune time for rafting companies, as releases from the various feeder reservoirs into the Arkansas River are subsiding. Twin Lakes, Turquoise Lake and Clear Creek Reservoir contribute to the Arkansas flow.
“The busiest river for rafting in Colorado is the Arkansas, but the augmenting is tapering off this weekend,” said Kevin Foley, owner of Performance Tours, which is licensed for raft trips on the Arkansas and Colorado rivers. “Companies down here (on the Arkansas) are still going to raft, but they might shift their focus a little (to the Colorado). It’s a fun run over there on the Upper Colorado. It’s just Class 1 and 2, but with the additional flow, it makes the waves bigger and makes it more fun.”
Most local rafting companies run trips through these calmer sections of the Upper Colorado, which are located through the Lower Gore Canyon. The releases from Green Mountain into the Lower Blue, however, will also increase flows through the Upper Gore Canyon, which features many Class 4 and 5 sections of the Colorado River.
Some companies, like Kodi Rafting in Frisco, offer self-guided tours through the Lower Gore Canyon, and say the new flows on the Upper Colorado have made those trips more exciting.
“The Colorado can’t gather the spring runoff like other rivers because there’s so many dams along it,” said Christian Campton, co-owner of Kodi Rafting in Frisco. “For us, the releases are perfect timing with the Arkansas dropping off in the next couple of weeks.”
Since Sept. 11, 2001, kayakers have been restricted at the put-in area on Green Mountain Reservoir. They can access the dam area Friday through Sunday during daylight hours. Kayakers and other Lower Blue users are forced to move their cars and gear from the area by sundown.
Shauna Farnell can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 236, or at email@example.com.
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