From The Loveland Reporter-Herald (Pamela Johnson):
Officials from all three and the Bureau of Reclamation have been “scrambling” to find the money for the inspections so the boat ramps can open, as usual, at the beginning of April, noted Ken Brink, visitor services specialist for the Larimer County Department of Natural Resources.
“It’s less than two months away, so there’s a little pressure on us to get it squared away,” Brink said at a recent Parks Advisory Board meeting.
This funding arrangement is a bridge to cover 2017 while the state looks for permanent funding through new boat and fishing fees…
“This is our drinking water supply,” County Commissioner Tom Donnelly said Wednesday at a work session to talk about boat inspections. “You are concerned about recreational users. We have a bigger concern. This is our drinking supply for much of Northern Colorado and agricultural water.”
Larimer County manages recreation at the reservoirs, which are owned by the Bureau of Reclamation and hold Colorado-Big Thompson water that is managed by Northern Water.
Because of that stake in Carter and Horsetooth, Northern Water should help pay for the inspections this year, said Lew Gaiter, county commissioner.
“Ask your board to ante up,” he said to Brad Wind, deputy manager of the water district’s operations division. “You guys probably have more skin in the game than anyone else.”
Wind said he believes the board of directors for the water district will agree to pay $100,000 because the request is for a single year only until Colorado Parks and Wildlife can find a different funding source.
“We’re going to give our board the view that it’s very critical that we do something,” Wind said at the county commissioners’ work session.
“We’re optimistic we can convince them, at least for 2017.”
By 2018, Colorado Parks and Wildlife hopes the Legislature will have passed a new law creating an Aquatic Nuisance Species stamp that will be required on all boats at a cost of $15 to $50, depending upon the size of boat, where it is from and the risk for contamination. The law also would add a $1 fee to fishing licenses.
Both of these measures would bring in about $4 million per year, which would cover the cost of inspections throughout the state, Reid DeWalt, assistant director for wildlife and natural resources with Colorado Parks and Wildlife, explained at the county commissioners’ meeting Wednesday.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife has spent about $4.5 million per year since 2009 to pay for inspections at many of the lakes and reservoirs around Colorado, with all of the funding coming from oil and gas severance taxes.
However, a recent Colorado Supreme Court ruling that changed the tax rules and exemptions resulted in that source of funding drying up.
For this summer, the state agency found $2.8 million within its reserves and budget, which it will use to cover the highest-risk waters, and it will partner with local governments for inspections on their waters.
The hope is for a three-way partnership in Larimer County. The last needed approval is from Northern Water, which meets Thursday.