By Carter Williams
An undated photo of Echo Reservoir in Coalville. Crews are still to replace an aging courtesy dock at the reservoir in 2023. It’s one of 10 new projects announced in November.
SALT LAKE CITY — 2022 was a year of frustration for many boaters, especially as Utah’s ongoing drought impacted water levels at many reservoirs across the state.
There were also many long lines related to parking or quagga mussel inspections during the year. Utah recreation agencies are looking to ease some of these problems as the calendar shifts to 2023.
The state’s parks, recreation and wildlife divisions plan to begin nearly a dozen boating access improvement projects in the new year. Not all of the projects focus on ramps, some focus on parking and even restrooms at different places in the state.
“These projects provide public access to satisfying and safe boating and fishing experiences on public lakes, reservoirs and rivers across the state,” said Craig Walker, the assistant chief of fisheries for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, when the projects were announced back in November.
The 10 projects are:
- Big Sand Wash Reservoir: Crews will move the reservoir’s vault toilet, located 1,000 feet from the boat ramp, closer to the boat ramp to make it easier for boaters to access. Officials said the current distance resulted in a growing number of visitors not using the restroom facilities.
- Colorado River: An educational program where employees can visit boater access and stop-over points along the Colorado River to inform boaters on ways to prevent wildfires and the spread of aquatic invasive species, like quagga mussels. Crews will also install new educational signs and remove noxious weeds in the area.
- Echo State Park: Crews will install a new multi-slip courtesy dock that includes four primary dock sections and four slip dock sections to replace the old dock, which officials say functions poorly with the reservoir’s changing water levels.
- Flaming Gorge Reservoir: The U.S. Forest Service will continue to cover the costs of docks and floating infrastructure maintenance at Flaming Gorge Reservoir throughout the entire boating season, “despite ongoing budget reductions.”
- Green River: A new boating ramp will be installed along the river within the Green River city limits to improve paddleboard and raft access.
- Gunnison Bend Reservoir: The restrooms, originally built in the 1960s, will be rebuilt and made accessible for all abilities.
- Lindon Marina: Nineteen new trailer boat stalls and 27 new vehicle parking stalls at Lindon Marina, as well as another 10 parking stalls along the east beach by Utah Lake.
- Lost Creek State Park: A dock and new restroom will be added to improve missing or aging facilities at the state park.
- Weber River: A team will design and engineer plans for three put-in and take-out sites, which will improve access points for paddleboarding along the river and prevent overcrowding at the existing sites.
- Willard Bay: A second decontamination station will be added to improve quagga mussel decontamination wait times, especially in the summer.
The funding for the projects comes from the Utah Division of Wildlife Resource’s Boating Access Grant Program, which, in coordination with the Utah Division of Outdoor Recreation, provided about $1.2 million for the projects.
Jeff Rasmussen, Utah Division of State Parks director, said the projects are important for the many people who visit Utah’s outdoor spaces. Nearly 11.64 million visitors flocked to Utah state parks in 2021, according to state data.
“Millions of visitors flock to state park reservoirs each year, so ensuring facilities and access points adequately meet the public’s expectations is essential,” he said, in a statement. “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.”
Carter Williams is an award-winning reporter who covers general news, outdoors, history and sports for KSL.com. He previously worked for the Deseret News. He is a Utah transplant by the way of Rochester, New York.