Guys, I am not a boater, but I think this will interest a number of you. Below is an alert from the folks at the Deschutes Angler (John and Amy Hazel) regarding BLM plans to close a couple of launches on the Deschutes above Mack's Canyon. Amy is suggesting we all give the BLM a bit of feedback.
One thing that very much concerns us is the way that the BLM has been managing the river. Over the years they have closed down several boat launches in order to more closely regulate their boater pass system. Before the floods of 1996 we used to have seven boat launches in Segment 3 at Buckhollow, Pine Tree, Jones Canyon, Beavertail, Rattlesnake, and two other spots before Mack's Canyon. This allowed boats who were floating and fishing to have all sorts of different floats available to them and traffic (which was much lighter back then) could spread out to avoid all the boats being on top of one another because they had to do the same floats. Five different guide boats could do five different sections and everyone felt like they had the river to themselves. Now there are three places to launch for a day float in segment 3 - Buckhollow, Pine Tree, and Beavertail.
This year, due to the pressure that the BLM is getting from the Warm Springs Tribe, the BLM is pushing to close even more boat launches. In their perfect world, Nena boat launch, Long Bend Boat Launch, and Wapinitia boat launch would all be closed to both launching and taking out of boats. Why? The Warm Springs Tribe owns the Harpham Flat campground/boat launch and they also own the Sandy Beach take out. They implemented a $1 per head charge at Harpham and a $1 charge per head at Sandy Beach to be collected for the Tribes - in addition to the $2 BLM boater pass on weekdays and $8 per head on weekends. By closing down all other boat launches (except for the Maupin City Park) in segment 2, the BLM can help the tribes collect their dollars.
So, fishermen, how do you like that? The closing of these boat launches will take away from drift boat anglers several miles of prime floats on the stretch of water closest to Maupin. We do 30-50 trips up on this part of the Deschutes every year and a lot more when the White River blows out the lower 50 miles of river and we have no place else to float where the water is clear. In addition, the sneaky BLM is trying to change the boundaries of the river so that segment 1 (currently Warm Springs to the locked gate) becomes Warm Springs to Harpham Flat and segment 2 is Harpham Flat to Sandy Beach. Do I have your attention yet??? As outfitters we have been fighting against these types of changes for years, but we are tiny compared to the managing agencies of the river. In our outfitter meetings we are welcome to air our opinions, but change is implemented without regard to what is in the best interest of the general public or outfitters. The representative of the tribe looked us in the eye at our meeting last week and said that the tribes will be monitoring the "environmental impact" on Longbend and Wapinitia boat ramps and will "make a decision" on whether or not they will remain open to use based on their "degradation". When John Hazel heard this BS he stood up and said that those two launches have changed zero in the 35 years that he has been guiding the Deschutes but that NO DOUBT the tribes will see significant impact and will elect to close them in 2016. We can either wait and see or we can voice our concerns about the limitations looming. If you don't like what you are reading here CALL 541-416-6700 and talk to Amy Bannon (boater pass concerns) or Todd Neville (Deschutes). Ask Amy or Todd about the possibility of and reasons for closing off Long Bend and Wapinitia and Nena for that matter. Make their Friday!