Locked out: Fishermen upset by new gate at Pineview Reservoir
EDEN, Utah — The pandemic brought an explosion of Utahns wanting to get outside and enjoy its beautiful public spaces.
It was especially true at Pineview Reservoir, which saw a 40% increase in use in 2020 compared with 2019.
The thought of those crowds pushed Mike Nielsen and Hal Lee to fish Pineview in any season but summer.
“Right now, is the magic time to catch big fish,” Lee told KSL in April, “and there’s no trouble with power boats and the number of people that come in.”
But unlike years past, something stood in the way of hooking a big one: A newly installed gate at the popular Port Ramp boat launch area.
“This reservoir has never been locked up,” lamented Nielsen. “They’ve always provided access to this reservoir year-round.
“Without a ramp, I can’t put my boat in the water, and without my boat in the water, I can’t catch a fish,” said Lee.
Both told KSL Investigators they’d reached out to the U.S. Forest Service, which manages Pineview, and were told the closure was due partly to vandalism.
Lee wasn’t so sure that reason justified closure to everyone.
“There are much more clever, nimble ways to do management than this,” he said.
“It looks like they don’t want to have us up here,” said Nielsen of the seasonal closure decision.
But the Forest Service told us the seasonal closure is only temporary.
Sean Harwood, district ranger of the Ogden district for the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest, said they look forward to welcoming recreators back year-round.
“They’ve used it as a year-round recreation site and we want to keep it that way,” said Harwood.
Starting this winter, Harwood told us folks will have access to Pineview through Anderson Cove, a location that hasn’t typically been open in the off-season.
“It has a boat ramp,” Harwood explained. “Plus we’ll have winter activities in the campground over there: fat biking, snowshoeing, cross country skiing.”
Year-round access to Port Ramp will take longer. Harwood estimated it will open back up for off-season recreation in three to five years.
Last summer, KSL Investigators found many updates and improvements need to be made at Pineview to keep up with demand for its facilities.
Sidewalks crumbling, concrete cinderblocks submerged in shallow water, and a rough ramp were all complaints made to KSL Investigators.
Vandals have not helped. Harwood showed us a brand-new section of fence at a boatyard that had been forcibly pulled out in recent months.
All that’s changing, thanks to a multimillion-dollar grant from the Great American Outdoors Act. The first project will be the Cemetery Point stabilization project.
“It’s eroding away at the point itself, and so this summer, we have a contractor coming in and fixing those washouts.”
Harwood said they’ve also purchased new docks for Port Ramp that will be anchored and installed sometime this summer.
“They just showed up late last fall,” said Harwood. “Another reason for the gate, we didn’t want anybody messing with the new equipment.”
Harwood told us there are five priority sites for renovation: Port Ramp, Windsurfer/South Skyline Trailhead, Pelican Beach, Spring Creek and Quist.
“These are major improvements,” Harwood said of the coming changes. “These are major reconfigurations of these sites, and so it’s going to take some time.”
A major reconfiguration coming will include creating a road to reroute traffic off state Route 158, which tends to bottleneck vehicles in busy months.
The U.S. Forest Service is working in conjunction with Weber County to design a much more user-friendly experience at Port Ramp, and the design is only about 30% complete
One major reason for the redesign: protecting Pineview from invasive Quagga mussels.
“The infestation is a serious issue,” said Harwood.
It was one of the reasons the Forest Service decided to turn Pineview into a day use area, which will be open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Lee and Nielsen had concerns about that.
“It’s the overnight boat camping Mecca of the world,” enthused Nielsen. “They sleep on their boats, they tie them together. As the sun’s coming up, you can see a string of 20 boats tied together. And now, they’re not going to be able to do that either with the gate.”
Harwood assured us overnight camping will still be possible. One of the improvements will be an exit-only access with a tire shredder so those wanting to stay on the lake a little longer won’t be locked in after 10 p.m. The gate will be locked for entry until the following morning.
“What they’ve been asking for, for years, improvements in the sites and everything else, it’s coming,” explained Harwood. “The growing pains with change can be tough. But it’s going to be a lot better when it’s finished.”
The gate at Port Ramp is now unlocked. Pineview Reservoir opened for the season on April 29.
For more information regarding Pineview renovations, visit the U.S. Forest Service’s website.
Pineview Reservoir is managed by a contracted concessionaire, Utah Recreation Company
Have you experienced something you think just isn’t right? The KSL Investigators want to help. Submit your tip at firstname.lastname@example.org or 385-707-6153 so we can get working for you.
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