Boaters say fees going up, quality going down at Pineview Reservoir

Jul 26, 2021, 10:07 PM | Updated: Feb 7, 2023, 3:39 pm

HUNTSVILLE, Utah – Pineview Reservoir is one of the most popular destinations for boaters in Utah, but many boaters complain of rising rates with nothing to show for it. The KSL Investigators got an up-close look at all the problems and found out how your money is being spent.

Clark Bailey and Nick Granato go to Pineview primarily to fish for Tiger Muskie. But while the ever-elusive fish lurk beneath the surface, boaters face other challenges on-shore.

“It’s frustrating,” said Bailey.

“From start to finish, you have issues,” said Granato.

Those issues, they said, are specifically at Port Ramp, the main boat launch at Pineview Reservoir. Boaters complain there are lots of problems – like a sidewalk that’s falling apart, a dock system that’s sub-par and concrete cinderblocks submerged in the water.

Boaters complain there are lots of problems like a sidewalk that’s falling apart and concrete cinderblocks submerged in the water. (KSL-TV) Boaters complain there are lots of problems like a sidewalk that’s falling apart and concrete cinderblocks submerged in the water. (KSL-TV)

“It’s kind of a ticking time bomb,” said Granato. “You can damage your prop. You can damage your boat. You could potentially damage your trailer.”

One of the biggest issues of all, boaters said, is the ramp itself. They said it’s rutted out and worn down.

“It really violently vibrates your equipment as you’re going in and out,” said Bailey. “I’ve heard of people breaking axels on here.”

On top of all that, the price of admission has been going up. Two years ago, an annual launch pass for Pineview was $150. Last year, it was $175 and this year, it’s $197.

“I think the consensus is, if they’re going to require $197 for an annual launch pass, then they just need to justify that,” said Bailey.

One more thing: That $197 annual fee is double what you’d pay at Bear Lake, Flaming Gorge and Jordanelle. The difference is those are state-run and Pineview is federal.

The KSL Investigators took those concerns to the Forest Service.

“I know the expectations and everything else. We’re working on this as fast as we can,” said Sean Harwood, the district ranger who oversees Pineview. “You can’t fix things overnight.”

Harwood said in January 2019, the Forest Service hired a management company, Utah Recreation Company, to oversee operations at Pineview Reservoir. URC sets the fees.

But where are the fees going?

The KSL Investigators asked the Forest Service for the records. They couldn’t produce them because URC doesn’t provide the government with a breakdown. However, Harwood said the money goes towards operation, maintenance and projects.

“We’ve got big plans and URC is a huge part of them,” said Harwood.

The two other launch sites at Pineview have seen improvements. Cemetery Point’s boat ramp was repaired this season and Anderson Cove got new restrooms. But nothing at Port Ramp.

“So, we see some improvements, just not here,” said Bailey.

Bailey and Granato believe improvements are being made at the other sites because they bring in added money through watercraft rentals at Cemetery Point and new glamping tents at Anderson Cove.

New glamping tents at Anderson Cove. (KSL-TV)

Harwood said that’s not true.

“No, absolutely not,” he said.

Instead, he said the issues date back to a different management company.

“For the last 20 years, we’ve put band aids on things,” said Harwood. “We’re going to get it done, but it’s going to take some time.”

Harwood said Port Ramp will get a new dock next spring. While they’re at it, they’ll also clean up all those cinder blocks. But no word yet about any improvements to the most-used ramp at Pineview.

“I would say, ‘Hold on, it’s coming,’” said Harwood.

It’s a promise Bailey and Granato hope the Forest Service can keep.

“We’re hoping something can change and things can be improved,” said Bailey.

The Forest Service believes Utah Recreation Company has done a good job over the past three years, but again, there’s a lot to catch up on.

They also have millions of dollars in federal grant money coming and say that will help them make a lot of improvements to Pineview over the next five to 10 years.

Have you experienced something you think just isn’t right? The KSL Investigators want to help. Submit your tip at investigates@ksl.com or 385-707-6153 so we can get working for you.

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Boaters say fees going up, quality going down at Pineview Reservoir