Slate River Working Group Releases Updated Guidelines for River Recreationists

As the weather warms and excitement for river recreation builds, the Slate River Working Group (SRWG) would like to share recommendations and guidelines intended to help river users participate in a community-driven approach to balancing recreation in the Slate River Valley with functional and healthy wildlife habitats, working grazing lands, private property rights and world-class scenic vistas.  These recommendations are considered annually by the SRWG based on snowpack, projected river flow levels associated with spring run-off, and Western Colorado University researchers’ ongoing observations of the impacts of recreation on the great blue heron population at the Slate River rookery.

For 2021, the SRWG’s recommendations for river users are as follows:

  • The SRWG recommends a voluntary no-float period from Gunsight Bridge to the Rec Path Bridge from March 15 through July 15 in order to protect the Slate River Valley’s great blue heron population during their most sensitive nesting period. Please note, the voluntary no-float period does not apply to BLM-administered portions of the Slate River or the section of river from the Rec Path Bridge to the bridge at Skyland.
  • To ensure that the Slate River remains a wild and special place throughout the summer season, the SRWG also requests that floaters leave no trace and adhere to the following river etiquette: respect the great blue heron and other wildlife by floating quietly and not playing amplified music; be sure that the flow is high enough to safely make it to the next access point without trespassing on private property; pack it in, pack it out – do not litter; use only designated river access points to put-in and take-out; when floating across private property, all passengers must remain on your craft; know how to use your craft, keep it within your skill level and always wear a personal flotation device on the water; be prepared for your journey by using restrooms provided at river access points before you float.
  • Stay tuned for additional updates and information from the SRWG throughout the summer, as well as opportunities to provide your input. Slate River Stewards will be conducting surveys at river access points and informing river users about recreating safely, responsibly and respectfully.  This spring, additional signage will be installed along the Slate River that will inform floaters of private land boundaries and cattle grazing areas in order to help avoid trespass issues and livestock disturbance.  Watch for news about construction of the new Slate River Boat Launch on Pyramid Avenue, which will begin in 2021.  Ongoing research by Western Colorado University biologists will continue to inform the SRWG’s future recommendations for balancing recreational use with a sustainable great blue heron rookery.

As a community collaboration comprised of 18 stakeholders with diverse backgrounds and interests, the SRWG was formed in 2018 to find compromise and collective solutions for adaptive river recreation that supports both ecological integrity and recreational opportunities on the Slate River.  Stakeholder representation includes private property owners, agency staff, wildlife researchers, agricultural lessees, recreational enthusiasts and business owners.  Members of the SRWG recognize that compromise must factor into its collective decision making processes.  The group uses a science and community-driven approach to formulate and recommend management strategies that reflects a balance between the many recreational, agricultural, property and ecological values in the Slate River Valley.  Thank you for doing your part to keep the Slate River Valley wild, productive, beautiful and fun!

For more information about the Slate River Working Group, please visit:

Slate River Working Group Co-conveners:

Crested Butte Land Trust

Jake Jones, Executive Director



Town of Crested Butte

Janna Hansen, Parks, Recreation, Open Space and Trails Director


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