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Uncompahgre Field Office
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Public lands within the UFO support a variety of land, water, and snow activities, including camping, hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking, cross-country skiing, rock climbing, off-highway vehicle use, and target shooting. Local rivers and streams offer ample opportunities for boating and cold-water fishing, and attract high visitation from across the state and nationally. Migrating and resident wildlife provide plentiful opportunities for observation, photography, and hunting (when area visitation typically peaks).
Visitation & Land Use
The greatest number of recreational visits occur on BLM lands adjacent to communities. The cities and towns of Montrose, Delta, Norwood, Paonia, Crawford, Hotchkiss, Cedaredge, Orchard City, Olathe, Ridgway, Telluride, Naturita, and Nucla are all near public lands commonly employed as “backyard” play areas by local residents. This recreational use continues to expand exponentially along with the growth of the communities. The communities benefit directly from the visitation and tourism associated with public lands.
In fact, recreation has emerged as the predominant activity on local BLM lands and national forests. Most data on public land use and activities is an approximation, relying heavily on field observations and the professional judgment of recreation specialists. It is estimated that the UFO receives around 349,000 visits per year.
Recreation Management Areas
During land use planning, the BLM designates Special Recreation Management Areas (SRMAs), where recreation is the principle management focus, and funding and personnel are directed toward fulfilling the commitment to provide specific “structured” recreational opportunities.
The UFO currently manages two SRMAs:
San Miguel River
Deep Creek to Piñon
UFO boundary to Bedrock
Any area not identified as an SRMA is designated as an Extensive Recreation Management Area (ERMA). Within ERMAs, recreation is unstructured and does not require intensive management or significant investment in trails or facilities. This type of custodial or “dispersed” recreation management provides minimal visitor services and few developed recreational facilities.
Comparison of ERMAs and SRMAs
No identifiable market demand for structured recreation
Tied to identified market demand for structured recreation (activities, experiences, benefits, and the maintenance of recreation setting character)
Reactive & Custodial
Directed at taking care of dispersed recreation-tourism activities
Directed at producing specific recreation opportunities/outcomes
Developed Recreation Facilities
In certain locations, the BLM has constructed recreation sites and facilities in order to enhance recreation opportunities, protect resources, manage activities, and reduce user conflicts. These infrastructure developments range from campgrounds to simple bulletin boards at trailheads.
Developed recreation sites occur mainly along the San Miguel River SRMA and in the Dolores River SRMA. There are several campsites along the San Miguel River corridor which have boat ramps, changing rooms, cabanas and picnic tables, grills, kiosks, parking areas, and toilets. The Dolores River SRMA has picnic tables, cabanas, parking area, boat ramp and a visitor information kiosk.
Other dispersed staging areas and trailheads in the UFO consist of kiosks, picnic tables, and parking areas, as well as one developed site along the Uncompahgre River with cabanas and picnic tables, informational signs, benches, toilet, and non-motorized paved trail.
Special Recreation Permits
The BLM requires special recreation permits (SRPs) for commercial uses, competitive events, organized groups, and recreation use within certain special areas in the UFO, including rivers, backcountry, and camping areas. Most SRPs issued by the UFO are for river activities and upland hunt outfitting services.
The UFO currently has approximately fifty commercial permits issued, which include guided fishing, white water rafting, vehicle shuttles, big and small game hunting, mountain lion hunting, horseback trail rides, jeep and motorcycle tours, camping, archery tournaments and mountain bike rides. Fifteen percent of SRP fees are expended on program administration, with the remainder going toward visitor services, monitoring, and maintenance.
Commercial Outfitters should visit the Commercial/Special Recreation Permits page prior to conducting activities in the UFO. In addition, organized groups (including school groups) may have to obtain a river outfitter license from the state of Colorado. Information about state requirements is available at: parks.state.co.us/boating/riveroutfitterlicensing/ or by contacting the State of Colorado directly.
Barbara Sharrow, Field Manager
Phone: (970) 240-5300 | TDD: (970) 240-5366 | FAX: (970) 240-5367
2465 S. Townsend Ave, Montrose, CO 81401
Office Hours: 8:00 am - 4:30 pm
Click on the address above for a map showing the location of
BLM Uncompahgre Field Office administrative headquarters