10 projects to improve boating access in Utah in 2023
Salt Lake City — Several projects aimed at improving boater access in Utah were recently approved for funding and should begin construction in 2023.
The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources 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 in funding 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 projects provide public access to satisfying and safe boating and fishing experiences on public lakes, reservoirs and rivers across the state," DWR Assistant Chief of Fisheries Craig Walker said. "However, it is important to note that the majority of funds — federal and state — used to maintain and construct boater access sites are derived from boaters themselves through excise taxes on boating equipment, fuel taxes and boater registration fees. We appreciate the boating community that helps provide quality boating experiences for fishing and other recreation in our beautiful state."
These fees have been allocated to six approved projects, so far, and another four projects are expected to be approved for funding by December.
"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."
Here is a look at the six projects officially approved for funding:
- Weber River access ramp complex design: This project will develop a set of 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 will increase safety along the river.
- 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 in order 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 will treat noxious weeds in those areas.
- Willard Bay south marina decontamination station improvements: This project will provide a second decontamination station to properly clean boats that have visited a waterbody with quagga mussels. There is currently only one decontamination facility at Willard Bay, located at the north marina, and wait times get very long during the summer months. This new station will help with boater compliance and keep Willard Bay and other waterbodies free of invasive quagga mussels.
- Lindon Marina parking at Utah Lake: This project will expand boater parking at the Lindon Marina by adding 19 trailer boat stalls and 27 vehicle parking stalls, as well as an additional 10 vehicle parking stalls along the east beach. This will help accommodate the growing number of visitors to this area of Utah Lake.
- Gunnison Bend Reservoir restroom: This project will remove the aging restroom facilities at Gunnison Bend Reservoir — which were built in the 1960s — and the rebuild will include ADA-compliant and more modern restroom facilities. This will reduce the amount of needed maintenance and will improve the boater experience at this reservoir.
- 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 will provide safer docking options during launching and retrieval.
Here are the four projects expected to be funded in December:
- Big Sand Wash Reservoir restroom relocation: This project will move the existing vault toilet at the reservoir closer to the boat ramp to make it easier and more convenient for boaters to use. The current bathroom is located roughly 1,000 feet away from the boat ramp, and the DWR has seen a growing issue with people not using the restroom facilities.
- 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.
- 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.
- Lost Creek courtesy dock and restroom: This project will provide a courtesy dock and a new restroom. There is currently not a dock at Lost Creek Reservoir, which makes launching a boat difficult, and the current restroom facilities are aging. These improvements will make boating more accessible at the state park.
"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. "For example, Willard Bay State Park alone saw over 700,000 visitors in 2021. Projects like the one being done there help us continue to provide an improved customer service experience while also managing the resource responsibly."