Author Archive for Eric Sprague

Watercraft Exempt from Mandatory Inspections

What Watercraft are Exempt from Mandatory Inspections?
The following nine watercraft are exempt from mandatory inspection as defined by CPW.
These are the only watercraft in Colorado that are exempt from the mandatory inspection law and
regulations. All others must be inspected.

1. Kayak
2. Canoe
3. Raft
4. Belly Boat
5. Windsurfer Board
6. Sailboard
7. Float Tubes
8. Inner Tubes
9. Paddle Boards

Marine propulsion systems that are gasoline or diesel powered must be inspected, regardless of the
watercraft type. They are NOT exempt. Electric motors must be inspected when they are not on an
exempt watercraft.
Any trailer that goes into the water must be inspected. Trailers are only exempt when they do not
enter water and the watercraft on top of the trailer is one of the exempt hand‐launched watercraft
listed above.
What are the reasons for exempting the above 9 types of watercraft from inspection?

1. Hand‐launched
2. Typically do not have a marine propulsion system
3. Typically do not have interior water holding compartments
4. Typically do not stay on the water long = short exposure time
5. Typically do not stay still on the water = short exposure time
6. Typically do not anchor or make contact with lake or reservoir bottom
7. Typically fully dried out before putting in a car or on top of a car for transport.
8. Provides a low‐risk access option for boaters and anglers when inspections aren’t present and
boat ramps are closed.

2017-4-10 McPhee Release Update

2017 McPhee Release Update

April 10, 2017:  MCPHEE DOWNSTREAM RELEASES CONTINUE AT THE  +/- 1,200 CFS  FOR THIS WEEK.  See below for more detail about future anticipated changes.


Summary:  The near term forecast looks sunny and warming.  We expect the runoff to respond and start climbing this week.  The April forecast did not change quantity, but the recent storms have delayed the timing.  We continue working on various scenarios to achieve multiple goals including:  optimum flows of 1,900 – 2,000 CFS, high flows of 2,500 – 4,000 CFS and continue releases through Memorial Day weekend.   We still expect to release around 250,000 AF that will make McPhee releases last approximately 60 days.  More detail below.


Continue to watch the releases below McPhee at and the gages linked below.

The sunny warming weather should start increasing flows immediately and reported dust deposits could accelerate inflows.  A high pressure ridge appears to be setting up over 4 Corners that will generate about 2 weeks of this warm & dry pattern.  The inflow increases will start raising the reservoir elevation that in turn should trigger higher releases in the ”Optimum” range of 1,900 to 2,000 CFS later this month.

We still plan for the higher boating releases, 2,500 to 4,000 CFS, in May.  It looks like we will reach appropriate trigger elevations in the first half of May currently and we anticipate on providing 2 weeks prior notice to those high release flows.

After the higher release peak, downstream flows will vary, but remain boatable, to raise the reservoir elevation ahead of the Memorial Day weekend.  2017 Operations are still forecast to release 250,000 AF downstream over a minimum of 60 days taking us to Memorial Day weekend.   Final release rates over Memorial Day will depend on how April & May inflow comes down and final April – July runoff volume.


Several Notices:

SLICKROCK:  Slickrock put-in/take-out access will happen on private property downstream of Hwy 141 bridge (bridge crosses Dolores River) about 200 yards past bridge on river left.  Look for small flagging in bushes on left.  DO NOT use the old boat ramp on river right upstream of bridge.  That is private property and is not accessible this season.  Additional info about Slickrock access here from DRBA:

BEDROCK BRIDGE:  The temporary equipment bridge (the low clearance one) was removed Thursday afternoon March 30. No intermittent closures are expected for a week or two. When a more definitive start date is available CDOT will provide notice.  Please see their website at  and look for signs, spotters and other guidance from the contractor, SEMA Construction, when the intermittent closures are active.

American Whitewater also provides good information about this year’s rafting opportunities and details for boaters at

DOVE CREEK PUMPHOUSE ROAD:  Please be careful of heavy traffic in and out of the Dove Creek Pumps launch site.  The road narrows and trucks with trailers cannot pass each other at certain points.  Consideration of others and patience are appreciated here.

Rico Gage:

Dolores Gage:

McPhee Elevation & Capacity:

Dolores below McPhee:

Slickrock Gage:

Bedrock Gage:

Ramp down is not currently expected until early June, but that schedule could change depending on continued spring weather.  The snow on the ground that is starting to melt will carry us through the first 45 days.  When the Dolores Inflow matches the McPhee outflow on the way down a last peak we will start ramping down.  From 800 CFS down we cut back to 600 over 24 hours and then hold for 24 hours.  This pattern repeats through 400, then 200 then down to 75 CFS and we’re done.  Ultimately you will have 4 days from 800 CFS to below 400 CFS when the releases start down.