Coulter Lake remains closed due to lack of water flow, no guest lodge operator
The popular Coulter Lake area in the White River National Forest north of Rifle remains closed indefinitely because the lake itself is nearly dry and the adjoining guest lodge is without an operator.
Rifle District Ranger Kelsha Anderson said the agency hopes to reopen the lake area to the public as soon as possible.
For now, officials are still trying to figure out why the supply flow into the lake has been essentially cut off, she said.
“The depression creating Coulter Lake captures natural flow from the watershed and is subsidized by flow from springs and a ditch system, which does not appear to be functioning normally,” Anderson said Monday. “We are still working to determine why the system is not functioning.”
The area was closed May 20 in order to protect public safety and the nearby private property.
The closure includes the road into Coulter Lake and a portion of the trail that leads from the lake to the Three Forks Trail. The closure does not affect the Three Forks Trail or access to Coulter Mesa, according to a news release.
Meanwhile, the Coulter Lake Guest Ranch currently does not have a permitted operator and is likely to remain closed for the season, Anderson said.
The privately run guest ranch is located next to the lake about 20 miles north of Rifle and operates under a special use permit from the White River National Forest.
A new permit was offered to the previous permit holder when the initial three-year authorization issued in 2017 expired last year.
“The previous permit holder did not sign the new permit by the required deadline and the three-year permit terminated under its own terms and conditions,” Anderson said.
The owner’s intentions are not known at this point, and to the Forest Service’s knowledge the ranch buildings have not been sold to a potential new operator, she said.
“The Forest Service does not expect a new operator to be in place in time to operate during the 2021 summer season,” Anderson said.
She added that the Coulter Lake Guest Ranch offers a unique recreational opportunity, and it is the intent of the White River National Forest to continue the permitted use in the future.
Senior Reporter/Managing Editor John Stroud can be reached at 970-384-9160 or email@example.com.
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