Steamboat anglers permanently banned from reservoir, accused of violating closures
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Two people who claim to be associated with an outfitting company from Steamboat Springs have been permanently banned from a reservoir in Grand County after allegedly violating a closure there.
The Colorado River District, which enforces rules and regulations at the reservoir, issued a news release about the incident Monday. The incident occurred on Saturday, April 18, after officials with the River District saw the people trespassing. The officials reported them to the Grand County Sheriff’s Office.
Jim Pokrandt, community relations director for the River District, would not release the names of the people involved. He said they were “holding themselves out to be outfitters” from Steamboat who ignored signs saying the reservoir was closed to boating and even moved a fence to access the water.
“It’s closed for a reason,” Pokrandt said.
Boating is typically closed this time of year due to lingering ice on the reservoir, he explained. It remains closed to boating until inspection and decontamination operations are established to check boats for invasive species.
A species of primary concern is the quagga mussel, which can cause costly and long-lasting damage to boat engines and water treatment plants. In the Great Lakes, for example, the mussels have caused an estimated $5 million each year in damages by clogging industrial water pipes and harming ecosystems.
The harm the mussels deal to other species in reservoirs also worsens the quality of fishing and other recreation, Pokrandt said.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, public parks and recreation sites across the state are under tightened restrictions. At Wolford Mountain Reservoir, that includes no access to campgrounds, playground, pavilions and picnic tables, according to the River District. Officials are unsure when those restrictions will be lifted or when boating will be allowed, Pokrandt said.
“We understand that there is pressure from the public, and people are anxious to recreate,” he said. “But we also have to consider what kind of concessions we’d have to make during the pandemic.”
Similar closures exist in Routt County. Developed campgrounds will be closed until May 4 at the earliest, with a possible extension of the closures, according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
Non-campground outdoor areas such trails, marinas and shorelines remain open, according to the most recent information from CPW.
Bathrooms are open and continue to be cleaned, though people should bring their own hand sanitizer. Fishing from the shoreline also is allowed at lakes and reservoirs as long as people practice social distancing.
Steamboat Lake State Park still has too much ice on its water for boating, according to Administrative Assistant Kelly Cook with CPW. She does not expect boating to open until mid-May at the earliest.
While some anglers have been tossing their lines into the creeks below Steamboat Lake, Cook said few have been successful.
“I don’t think the fish are heading down the creeks quite yet,” she said.
Stagecoach State Park plans to open the reservoir for boating on Friday, May 1, according to Park Manager Craig Preston. Officials will conduct boat inspections using modified procedures meant to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Despite the restrictions, people still need to pay any fees at applicable parks and trailheads.
Other recreation areas may be closed or have limited access due to the pandemic. Guidelines are subject to change. For the most recent information, contact the agency that manages the recreation area in question.
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Moffat County continues to see a downward trend in COVID-19 cases as the community has seen 31 new cases dating back to Friday, Jan. 8, according to Public Health.