It appears there will be a marina on Vallecito reservoir this summer. That was in question after the private marina operator quit business at the end of the 2014 operating season.
Last fall the Pine River Irrigation District (PRID) board got proposals from two private operators - one to take over the marina at Sawmill Point and the other to reopen a north marina near the Vallecito Community Center.
Those proposals fell through, PRID office manager Christy Duran said. "We didn't find that out until April."
Faced with the prospect of no marina this summer, a community group, the Vallecito Conservation and Sporting Association (VCSA), has signed a contract with PRID to operate the marina.
PRID superintendent Brian Sheffield said this will be just at Sawmill Point for now. "The north end isn't being utilized. It might be at some point" by VCSA or some other private entity, he said.
VCSA wants to have the marina open by July 4 if not sooner, but there are a lot of things they have to do to get it going, Sheffield said - hire a manager, hire an engineer to design the fuel setup, buy boat slip materials, and buy boats they will rent. At some point they'll have slips and buoys for people to moor their private boats, he said. More information is at http://vallecitosportingclub.org. Click on the marina link.
He clarified that boats are on the water now despite lack of a marina. "People can launch. The state has their mussel inspection (for invasive quagga and zebra mussels). There's no marina to tie a boat up. You can't buy worms there yet. We've been allowing boats on since before the state started inspecting." People want to get on the water as soon as the ice is gone, he said.
"They (state inspectors) start too late," Sheffield said, so a PRID employee conducted the mussel inspections earlier this season.
He noted several entities have jurisdiction at Vallecito, and there are fees on private boats and for parking and activities along the lake, where the land is controlled by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. PRID administers recreation at the lake and collects the fees to help cover costs for recreation - cleaning restrooms, maintaining buildings and grounds, removing lake debris, controlling weeds, patrolling, and picking up trash.
There are payment kiosks at the dam on the CR 501 side; at Sawmill Point; at the Aspen Point trailhead and picnic area and the Community Center trailhead and picnic area on the west side of the lake; and at the Kokanee Point trailhead and picnic area on the back side south of the Middle Mountain Road turnoff.
The U.S. Forest Service controls the campgrounds on the back side of the lake and charges fees for those. Campers may use that land to the water's edge. Outside of those campgrounds on Bureau of Reclamation land, the PRID use permit fee applies, with one exception. Visitors who are hiking on Forest Servce land can park on BOR land without paying the fee.
"Our concern is, we are attempting to educate the public on the fees, where and why they are charged," Sheffield said. "We have nothing to do with the Forest Service, and they don't have anything to do with what we're doing." He said that when people get used to having something for free, such as parking and using the lake shore, "they feel a little violated when they have to pay." But he added, "None of our employees work for free" to maintain public recreation facilities.
A brochure from the bureau lists the different fees and includes a map of the various PRID and USFS facilities. For more information, call the PRID office just below the dam at 884-2558.
As of Monday morning, the reservoir held 120,711 acre feet, approaching the 125,400 AF capacity. Sheffield said inflow that morning was 1,392 cubic feet per second, and the dam release was at 950 cfs. He expected to increase releases on Tuesday to keep up with higher inflows due to the high temperatures this week.