Eagle boaters say ramp is worth the cost
EAGLE — Now that Eagle has a snazzy new boat ramp on the Eagle River, the community is asking commercial operators to pay to use the facility.
Last month, the town sent out a letter to commercial rafting companies in the area noting that they need to sign an agreement if they planned to use the Chambers Park take-out this summer. The letter also noted that a $1 per person fee would be charged for commercial rafting company customers.
“While in the past years we have taken a $200 deposit, this year we are only asking that you keep track of the number of your rafters and pay the $1 per person fee at the end of the rafting season,” noted the correspondence from John Staight, Eagle Open Space coordinator.
Staight said that Eagle has been charging commercial companies the nominal take out fee since 2006 to help pay for town facilities and services used by rafting companies and clients. However, he noted that with the improvements debuted this year, the commercial companies can take advantage of a great new amenity.
“The town, along with GOCO (Greater Outdoors Colorado and Colorado Lottery funding) built a new concrete boat ramp last fall. Rock jetties were also installed to create a nice eddy which has significantly improved the ease and safety of taking out at the boat ramp,” Staight said. “Your guides will greatly appreciate the improvement when unloading client and loading boats.”
Greg Ketchner, the owner and operator of Timberline Tours for the past 45 years, agreed with Staight’s assessment.
“The town did a great job with the take-out,” he said.
Ketchner said his guides have been using the Chambers Park take-out for years, but fast running water and willow growth sometimes made for a difficult landing. He noted that at times the company would tie safety lines to make sure that boats made it to the landing area.
But those measures are now a thing of the past, Ketchner said. For his part, he is happy to pay the $1 per rafter fee. Ketchner said, in general, he believes public land user fees are pretty reasonable especially when the money does toward projects like the improved Eagle boat ramp.
“The town understands it is an asset to the community. Everyone wins, and the money is relatively small,” Ketchner said.
Eagle officials agree.
“Chambers Park has changed greatly over the past several years to become a highly used and versatile facility,” said Staight.
Ketchner added that the local popularity of river sporting was on display last Saturday when the town celebrated its boat ramp grand opening at the Eagle River Jam event.
“It was a huge success. We signed up to take people on a short raft trip, and we thought we would have 30 or 40 people. We took 220 people,” Ketchner said, “Moe’s Original Bar B Que went through 600 hot dogs that day.”
Staff writer Pam Boyd can be reached at email@example.com and 970-328-6656, ext. 4.