RECOMMENDATIONS FOR BOATING ON THE DOLORES RIVER IN 2020 IN THE CONTEXT OF COVID-19:
DRBA offers the following recommendations based on the governor’s “Safer at Home” guidelines and our research and contact with many public land agencies, towns and counties where the Dolores flows.
The first part of our mission is, “DOLORES RIVER BOATING ADVOCATES PROMOTES RESPONSIBLE RECREATIONAL USE.” That is what we are recommending within the context of COVID-19.
The governor’s “Safer at Home” orders include the following guidelines that affect outdoor recreation:
- Local and personal recreation outside OK when you can observe 6 feet of distance between participants and limit group sizes to 10 or fewer (walking, jogging).
- Outdoor recreation must be within one’s community and/or no further than 10 miles from residence.
Many local governments have enacted their own restrictions and these will likely change over time. If you go, check with these local authorities on ever changing conditions and recommendations with respect to COVID-19. The following are the hyperlinks for the Sheriff’s offices and County and Regional Departments of Health of the Dolores watershed.
Montezuma County Sheriff
Montezuma County Department of Health
Dolores County Sheriff
Dolores County Department of Health
San Miguel County Sheriff
San Miguel County Department of Health
Montrose County Sheriff
Montrose County Department of Health
Mesa County Sheriff
Mesa County Department of Health
Grand County Sheriff
Southeast Utah Health Department
An important consideration is that the Dolores River runs through small towns and rural counties in Southwest Colorado and Southeast Utah, and many of these places do not have extensive medical facilities and have very few confirmed positive cases of COVID-19. Please follow local government recommendations. If they request that you stay away, please respect these requests. Avoid stopping for supplies or fuel in these places.
Private Property access is always off limits without permission from landowners. Thus far the river stretches that are in BLM land will be open to camping, with the exception of the Utah Moab Field Office where camping is currently closed which includes all BLM land along the Dolores in Utah. Public officials have told us clearly that if there are too many people congregating at access points they may be forced to close them to the public.
Do not endanger yourself or others. If you do go boating, only run sections close to home that are easy for you and below your normal skill level. Stay sharp. Don’t be the boater that has to call for help. Search and Rescue does not need additional risk this year. And don’t get hurt. Hospitals need to maintain space and supplies in the case of new local Covid cases.
In the midst of this public health emergency, it may not be the best year to go boating. If you find yourself inclined to go boating, here are other recommendations to consider:
- Avoid high risk and remote areas.
- If you have to ask for directions or look at a map, it’s too far.
- Don’t congregate. This includes at the boat ramps, parking areas, on the river and after you are done (this concept was expressed by many public officials.)
- Shuttling in the car with a boating partner you’re not already exposed to is not advised.
- Boat and shuttle with family members, roommates or shelter-in-place partners that you have already and consistently been exposed to. Always maintain good social distancing and excellent hygiene.
- If you normally have to ask bystanders at the ramp for help getting your boat on or off your trailer, or dragging it to the river, then maybe your boat is too big this year.
- If the stretch of river you want to run is a place you have not ever been before, then this is not the year to test it out.
- Further, we recommend that you do your own due diligence and research public health orders and other restrictions for places you are considering traveling to and through.
- If local officials are asking you not to come into their area, then stay away.
- Be good stewards, practice Leave No Trace techniques, and be a smart, safe boater.