Author Topic: Curecanti National Recreation Area, Snowmobiles and Off-Road Motor Vehicles  (Read 1629 times)

Offline Peter Vahry

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Special Regulations of the National Park Service, Curecanti
National Recreation Area, Snowmobiles and Off-Road Motor Vehicles

AGENCY: National Park Service, Interior.

ACTION: Proposed rule.


SUMMARY: The National Park Service proposes to amend its special
regulations for Curecanti National Recreation Area, Colorado, to
designate routes, water surfaces, and areas where snowmobiles or motor
vehicles may be used off park roads. Unless authorized by special
regulation, the operation of snowmobiles and the operation of motor
vehicles off road within areas of the National Park System are
prohibited. The other existing special regulations for Curecanti
National Recreation Area would remain in effect.

DATES: Comments must be received by July 8, 2013.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments, identified by the Regulation
Identifier Number (RIN) 1024-AD76, by any of the following methods:
     Federal rulemaking portal:
Follow the instructions for submitting comments.
     Mail or hand delivery to: Curecanti National Recreation
Area, 102 Elk Creek, Gunnison, CO 81230, Attn: Ken Stahlnecker, Chief
of Resource Stewardship and Science.
    Instructions: All submissions received must include the agency name
and RIN for this rulemaking. All comments received will be posted
without change to, including any personal
information provided. For additional information, see Public
Participation under SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION below.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ken Stahlnecker, Chief of Resource
Stewardship and Science, Curecanti National Recreation Area, 102 Elk
Creek, Gunnison, CO 81230. Phone: (970) 641-2337x225. Email:



History of Curecanti National Recreation Area

    The Blue Mesa Dam and Reservoir, Morrow Point Dam and Reservoir,
and Crystal Dam and Reservoir make up the Curecanti Unit, one of the
four main units authorized by the Colorado River Storage Project Act of
April 11, 1956 (Pub. L. 84-485) (CRSPA). The Curecanti Unit is also
known as the Wayne N. Aspinall Storage Unit.
    Section 8 of CRSPA directed the Secretary of the Interior
(Secretary) ``to investigate, plan, construct, operate, and maintain
(1) public recreational facilities on lands withdrawn or acquired for
the development of [the Colorado River Storage Project] to conserve the
scenery, the natural, historic, and archeological objects, and the
wildlife on said lands, and to provide for public use and enjoyment of
the same and of the water areas created by these projects by such means
as are consistent with the primary purposes of said projects. . . .''
    Pursuant to that provision, the National Park Service (NPS) began
managing natural and cultural resources and recreational uses within
Curecanti National Recreation Area (CURE) in 1965 under a Memorandum of
Agreement (MOA) with the Bureau of Reclamation. In 1978, Bureau of
Reclamation lands in the East Portal area were added to CURE and placed
under the management authority of the NPS pursuant to the MOA.

Description and Significance of Curecanti National Recreation Area

    CURE is located in Gunnison and Montrose Counties in southwestern
Colorado. The reservoirs and the surrounding lands provide recreational
opportunities amidst a variety of natural, cultural, and scenic
resources, including recently discovered dinosaur fossils, a 5,000-acre
archeological district, and traces of 6,000-year-old dwellings.
Approximately one million people visit CURE annually to take advantage
of numerous recreational opportunities. Most visitors come during the
summer months when temperatures are warmer and water-based activities
are more popular.
    The recreation area contains water resources, including three
reservoirs that provide a variety of recreational opportunities in a
spectacular geological setting. Blue Mesa Reservoir is one of the
largest high-altitude bodies of water in the United States. It provides
an exciting diversity of water recreation opportunities for
windsurfers, sail boaters, and water skiers.

Motor Vehicle and Snowmobile Use Off Road at Curecanti National
Recreation Area

    Visitors to CURE use motor vehicles to access campsites, fishing

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marinas, trailheads, and other destinations throughout the recreation
area, both on and off roads. Motor vehicle access is also an important
means for disabled or mobility impaired visitors to experience the
recreation area.
    Motor vehicles have traditionally been used to access certain sites
within the recreation area, including areas below the high-water mark
(i.e., where the water line would be if the reservoir is at full
capacity) of Blue Mesa Reservoir (also known as Blue Mesa Lake). The
high-water mark is defined as the point at which the reservoir is at
maximum capacity (full pool), an elevation of 7,519 feet. NPS policy at
the recreation area has been to allow the operation of motor vehicles
between the high-water mark and the water surface of Blue Mesa
Reservoir for the purpose of fishing access and boat launching. In
addition, the NPS has designated several access roads that service
power lines as routes open for motor vehicle access. Access to areas
below the high-water mark is primarily from maintained roads. However,
routes off established roads also provide access for travel below the
high-water mark in a few areas. The most common motor vehicles that
access these areas are cars and trucks. During the winter months,
snowmobiles are often used to reach popular fishing locations on the
frozen surface of Blue Mesa Reservoir. Snowmobiles access the frozen
surface from designated access points.
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