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BLM limits boaters on Deschutes


nbsp;  To boat on the Deschutes River from Pelton Reregulating Dam to Harpham Flat (Segment 1) next summer will require recreators to obtain a permit in advance Saturdays and Sundays from May 15 to Sept. 15.
   At the Lower Deschutes River managers meeting, held Friday, Dec. 3, Bureau of Land Management officials outlined some implementation details of the limited entry permit system and demonstrated use of the Web site where vendors and those on the Internet can obtain permits.
   In early November of 2003, the BLM signed an agreement before a Ninth Circuit federal judge to implement the permit system from Warm Springs to the mouth of the Deschutes River.
   Opposition came from the local governments of Wasco County, Maupin, and Madras because the limited entry permit system allows only a limited number of boaters on the river during peak summer times. People wishing to float the Deschutes after the number of available permits has been issued, will be turned away. Limiting the number of boaters makes those who view the river as a recreational attraction nervous.
   Local government has still not signed 2003's settlement agreement and continues to be reluctant to implement the permit system.
   Wasco County commissioner Sherry Holliday reminded those in attendance on Dec. 3 that the agreement hasn't been signed. She also noted that local government can't get a copy of the agreement. Moving forward with implementation is something that local government is doing, "under duress," said Holliday.
   Dan VanVactor, the city attorney for Maupin, told the room that local government is not in consensus and that legitimate issues are not resolved.
   Jim Noteboom, attorney for the Warm Springs Tribes, answered, "If the settlement doesn't go through, then the plan happens on the whole river."
   Noteboom was referring to the Lower Deschutes Management Plan, wherein it is grandfathered that if boater numbers exceed set expectations, then the BLM must implement a limited entry permit system.
   The United States Justice Department is expected to make a final judgment on the settlement agreement in the immediate future.
   At Boaterpass.com, those with an Internet connection can check availability and buy permits.
   There will be two other ways for the recreator to get a permit. Locally, permits can be bought at Tiger Mart and The Riffle Fly Shop. White Horse Adventures in Warm Springs will also have the permits available. Maupin is expected to have several vendors by January.
   In addition, the BLM will offer a toll -- free phone number by January of this year.