If you're heading out on the Colorado River this year, you might need to make reservations. The popular stretch of water between Loma, CO and Westwater, UT has a new permit system in place for campers
Every year, many on the Western Slope come to relax and view the wildlife on this stretch of river, known locally as Ruby-Horsethief. In recent years, boaters would have to rush downstream to take advantage of open campsites, which are limited along the river.
That's why the BLM instituted a reservation system this year.
"The permits are issued for Friday and Saturday nights out of our office. For folks who are floating and camping during the week, they issue themselves a permit for their campsite down here at the launch," said Katie Stevens, manager for the McInnis Canyons Conservation Area.
"This decision to have reserve spaces for camping is something that began many years ago and the fact that it will go to a fee-based permit next year is something that has been a long time coming and we have had overwhelmingly positive feedback from people utilizing the river," added Chris Joyner, who does public affairs for the BLM.
A fee will be added to the reservation next year based on how many are in each party.
"Any time the Bureau of Land Management charges a fee for any of our resources, that fee has to go directly back into the area where the fee is applied," Joyner said.
According to officials, the fees are likely to go to river conservation, campsite maintenance and rehabilitation and management of the area.
Park Ranger Troy Schnurr took us through Ruby-Horsethief on Monday. He has spent many years on the Colorado and takes a lot of pride in the area. He spends most of his week working in the area as well.
"I've got two other river rangers that spend the good majority of their time on the weekends working with folks, making sure they're having a good time and playing by the rules."
That gives him time to work on projects like the removal of non-native plants like Tamarisk and Knapweed as well as restoring Cottonwood Trees on the banks and campsites.
He says that people favor the registration system and understand the proposed fees.
"The atmosphere this year at the Loma Boat Ramp has just been so much more relaxed. People are showing up not being in a hurry. They know that they've got a campsite available for them and it just makes everything so much more enjoyable for their trip, their experience."
Officials with the BLM all say they put high importance on public feedback and that's why the put out extensive comment periods on changes to resources like Ruby-Horsethief.
"The public is our boss," said Joyner.