Currently flows in the Gunnison River through the canyon are about 950 cfs. We expect no changes to this flow rate until mid-October when flows will be reduced to accommodate the brown trout spawn. River flows should be around 600 cfs during the time of the spawn. This will continue until the conclusion of the spawn in mid-November at which point flows in the river will increase to around 1000 cfs. Flows through the Black Canyon may increase again in December as releases from the Aspinall Unit will most likely need to be higher than 1000 cfs to lower Blue Mesa Reservoir to the Dec 31st winter target elevation.
“If we could get a boat ramp every eight or 10 miles (below State Bridge), that could spread the people out,” Treu said. “Right now, that stretch of river is too long and slow to appeal to many users. With the public access that’s currently available, there are no half-day floats — the trips are very long days.”
That’s why Eagle County has been working on some land deals that would gain public access to points along the Colorado River. Two of the deals have closed, and others are still being worked out…
Eagle County recently started the process to get “in-stream flow protection” and senior water rights to the isolated stretch of the Colorado. In this case, an in-stream flow protection would protect fish habitat by guaranteeing a minimum water flow. Other such protections also have been made for recreational rights, such as whitewater parks. “(The section from State Bridge to Dotsero) is the only section (of the Colorado) that doesn’t have in-stream flow protection,” Treu said. “If this section of river is not utilized, it will seem more acceptable for Denver to claim it.”[…]
“By getting in-stream flow protection, getting more people on that stretch and getting senior water rights, we will have a three-pronged attack,” Treu said. The claims are currently being processed in the Colorado water courts. A ruling isn’t expected anytime soon, however, because the state’s water rights are complex and the courts are slow.