Thursday, January 3, 2013

IDFG improves river access

Workers finish the new 20-foot-wide boat ramp at the Carmen Bridge access site. Greg Painter photo.
Public access to The Salmon River continues to improve due to ongoing, dedicated and diligent efforts by IDFG Salmon Region Staff.

The Year 2012 saw a major project reach completion at the Carmen Bridge downriver from Salmon City.  IDFG spent approximately $400,000 in salmon and steelhead tag funds to acquire and improve about 12 acres on the river left shore upriver from the Highway 93 Carmen bridge.  The 20-foot wide concrete boat ramp was finished in October.  (Photo at left shows location of the new concrete ramp in proximity to the Hwy 93 Carmen Bridge downriver in background.)

The Carmen Bridge access now includes a spacious parking area, four camping spots, an ADA-accessible vault toilet and various other site improvements.  Usage of the new access site gradually increased during the fall steelhead season and the area continues to see camping usage even during the winter season.  Future plans for the Carmen site include an ADA fishing ramp similar to the one at Tower Rock for both people in wheel chairs and those who have difficult walking over uneven terrain.

The Carmen site was developed in part due to concerns that an "Access YES" area below the bridge might someday become unavailable for public usage.  As word gets around about the newly constructed site, most of the usage is now shifting away from the unimproved, informal access below the bridge.

Salmon IDFG Access Coordinator Greg Painter said he is very pleased to see how well the public has become involved in using the new Carmen site.  The new amenities and location are attracting more than those who seek to launch a boat. Painter said, "We're happy to see the public begin to view the Carmen site as a destination place to visit."
The Deer Gulch ramp (Red "X" at right in photo above) was another major IDFG river access improvement in Year 2012.
 Other Year 2012 access improvements included installation of a new single lane boat ramp at Deer Gulch, ADA-facilities on the Pahsimeroi River and major improvements to the Hayden Lake fishery.  The new Deer Gulch ramp was slightly angled to provide much better boater access at that location.
Here's a view of the new Deer Gulch boat ramp as it was nearing completion. Greg Painter photo.

Painter indicated that Year 2013 access improvements will focus on the Colston site which provides the first public river access below Ellis vicinity sites including the BLM's Cottonwood Campground, the Pahsimeroi confluence and the private Royal Gorge Resort boat ramp.  IDFG will install a ADA-vault toilet along with some grills and camp fire rings at Colston Creek along with other user-friendly improvements.  The Bobcat Gulch access site upriver from North Fork could also be in line for a new concrete boat ramp as well as possible improvements to the turning radius and staging area near the ramp.

Painter reported that there are essentially no more copies remaining from the second printing of the popular IDFG Salmon Region access guide.  He hopes to get a revised third edition printed in the coming year.  The IDFG Salmon Region access guide continues to receive rave reviews from all those who have seen and used it.

Eventually, IDFG hopes to have public river access sites located roughly every five miles along The Salmon River from North Fork upriver to the SNRA boundary near Thompson Creek.

For more information regarding IDFG's river access information, contact Greg Painter at 208-756-2271.
 The Tower Rock ADA fishing ramp shown above is similar to what IDFG hopes to install at Carmen Bridge.
IDFG's judicious allocation and use of the salmon & steelhead tag funds have  improved public river access.
 The Colston Creek access site is very heavily used during steelhead season and also whenever salmon season is open in this section of The Salmon River.
Here's a view of the parking area for Colston.  This area get fairly heavy camping usage as well.
 The Bobcat Gulch ramp shown above is one of the small, old style ramps.  IDFG wants to improve this facility in Year 2013.
Although parking elsewhere at the Bobcat Gulch site is ample, the area next to the ramp is cramped and rather tight for trailers.  IDFG hopes to make improvements to this facility in year 2013.
Above is the finished Deer Gulch ramp.  The Bobcat Gulch ramp will be very similar.  Greg Painter photo.

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