The BLM has issued new summer time boating rules for the John Day that will greatly restrict the number of boats allowed on the most popular stretches from late May to early July. Under the rules released on Thursday afternoon, which go into effect for the 2011 boating season, the BLM will allow a total of just nine boat trips to launch in the popular Clarno to Cottonwood section of the lower John Day between May 20 and July 1. Upstream, the BLM will limit access to 19 boat trips per day between May 20 and July 10, on the so called Segment 3 between Service Creek and Clarno.
Using some back of the napkin math that would amount to about 1140 total possible trips during the peak season next summer on Segment 3. By way of contrast, the BLM recorded almost 10,000 boater launches last year on Seg. 3 during the peak season.
The new rules which have been in the works for several years are an attempt by the BLM to enhance the wilderness experience for users on the popular John Day River, which has been designated by Congress as Wild and Scenic waterway, allowing the BLM special management authority. Under the proposed rules, the BLM estimates that boaters will see fewer other groups during their floats, reducing competition for campsites as well as degradation of the natural environment that accompanies over-use. To help enforce the rules, the BLM will require all boaters to register and obtain a pass before launching.
The pass may be available next year at no cost, but boaters should check with the BLM and make their boating plans early if they want to get on the river this summer.