For many years, even among local boaters, there has been much uncertainty and confusion about legal access points for running the section of the San Miguel River near Naturita, CO. This Spring, thanks to the permission of the Town of Naturita, BHA volunteers were able to create a boat launch for river runners at Naturita Town Park, improving access to about 30 miles of river between the existing access points at Piñon Bridge and Uravan Ball Park. With the support of the Naturita Town Board, the friendly crew at Naturita Public Works used their heavy equipment to grade out a quality boat ramp at the site that BHA volunteers had identified and cleared of brush. Thanks are due also for the guidance and support of Sara Bachman, Naturita community advocate and town lawyer. BHA Colorado Chapter funds were generously used to purchase a sign marking the new access point, and for signs to help boaters find the site from the highway. The hope is that the improved access and information will encourage many more public land owners to get out and enjoy this rarely rafted section of river and eventually become advocates for the San Miguel.
Most river runners will use the new boat ramp to run the mellow but beautiful water between Naturita and Uravan Ball Park, a relaxing and family-friendly day float that offers a much more approachable option than the high gradients of the upper San Miguel towards Telluride, where oarsmen rarely have time for even a few sips of beer between rapids. Waterfowl and wildlife abound in the riparian zone along the San Miguel here, where the Nature Conservancy owns 7 miles of riverfront open to the public. While few in number, there are also usually big brown trout to be found in this section by the determined angler, according to the locals. The section between Piñon Bridge and Naturita will continue to be more seldom visited. While gorgeous and run by a few adventurous boaters, the river here is much more hazardous and technically advanced, with multiple low-head dams and river fences across the San Miguel.
Another example of BHA boots on the ground improving access to our public waters!