DWR receives funding, approval for boating improvement projects

NORTHERN UTAH — On Tuesday, Utah’s Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR) announced several projects to improve boater access in Utah which were recently approved for funding and should begin construction in 2023.

The DWR administers the Boating Access Grant Program for Utah, which funds projects like boat ramps, marina parking areas, marina restrooms, docks, and other improvements at boating areas. Through a partnership with the Utah Division of Outdoor Recreation, approximately $1.2 million is available for these improvements at various locations each year. Federal funds granted to the DWR by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service through the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program cover 75% of the overall project costs.

These fees have been allocated to the following approved projects so far:

  1. Weber River access ramp complex design: This project will develop design and engineering plans for three put-in and take-out sites along the Weber River. This will provide improved boater access points for paddleboarding along the Weber River to prevent crowding at the existing access points. It will also help prevent river bank erosion and increase river safety.  
  2. Echo State Park courtesy docks: This project will include the installation of a new multi-slip courtesy dock with a galvanized gangway, four primary dock sections, and four slip dock sections. These will replace the existing aging dock, which doesn’t currently function well with changing water levels at the reservoir. The new dock will be easier to maintain and provide safer docking options during launching and retrieval.
  3. Colorado River whitewater boater education and site maintenance: This project will allow a full-time employee to visit boater access and stop-over points along the Colorado River to educate the public on boating and camping rules to help prevent wildfires and the spread of aquatic invasive species. This employee will also install needed educational signs and treat noxious weeds in those areas.

Other local projects expected to be approved for funding by December:

  1. Operation and maintenance of installed floating structures on Flaming Gorge Reservoir: This project will allow the U.S. Forest Service to continue to cover the costs of maintenance to the docks and floating infrastructure at Flaming Gorge Reservoir throughout the entire boating season, despite ongoing budget reductions.
  2. Green River bank access ramp: This project will construct a new boat ramp along the Green River (within the Green River city limits) to provide better access for paddleboards and rafts. The project will also help restore the river habitat by removing invasive trees along the riverbank and replacing them with native plants.

“Boating offers an abundance of opportunities to explore and enjoy our amazing natural spaces throughout Utah,” said Division of Outdoor Recreation Boating Program Manager Ty Hunter. “These projects help to increase access, ensure responsible and sustainable use, and motivate more people to get outdoors and into nature by offering new and safe outdoor recreation opportunities on Utah’s waterways.”

DWR Assistant Chief of Fisheries Craig Walker appreciates the boater who contributes to the funding via excise taxes on boating equipment, fuel taxes, and boater registration fees. 

“Millions of visitors flock to state park reservoirs each year, so ensuring facilities and access points adequately meet the public’s expectations is essential,” Utah Division of State Parks Director Jeff Rasmussen said in the statement.

Boaters can reach out to the local agency that manages a waterbody or email to suggest potential boating access improvement project ideas.

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