CAUSEY RESERVOIR — Causey Reservoir, with its calm, dark green water, is increasingly popular among kayakers, paddle boarders and others seeking a tranquil getaway spot.
But while officials welcome the interest, it can have its downside — increased auto congestion, garbage left behind by visitors and more.
“It’s parking. It’s trash. It’s waste. That place is being loved to death,” said Sean Harwood, who heads the U.S. Forest Service’s Ogden Ranger District, which has jurisdiction over the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest, where Causey is located.
Accordingly, plans are afoot to add a new parking area around Causey, expand an existing parking spot and more, possibly starting in the fall of next year. Official visitor counts at Causey aren’t kept, “but our unofficial observations are that recreational use is increasing at Causey Reservoir,” Chris Penne, the northern region aquatics manager for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, said in an email.
On weekends, in particular, the visitor count can grow, with visitors’ parked cars lining the narrow road that winds along the west side of the reservoir, located about 11 miles east of Huntsville. Fast-moving boats are prohibited in Causey — those that travel at more than a trolling speed or cause a wake — making it a particular draw for paddle boarders and kayakers because of the relative calm of the water. At the same time, Harwood said, the popularity of paddle boats has surged.
The growing traffic has led to increased enforcement of parking restrictions and a rule requiring use of life jackets by those using Causey, notably in late July. Dating to the spring of 2018, Harwood said, law enforcement officials patrolling the area, including Weber County Sheriff’s Office deputies, issued some 200 citations due to errantly parked vehicles. Officials have been particularly adamant about enforcing a parking prohibition on the road atop the dam at Causey.
“The popularity is really growing and we’ve got to do something and start to manage it before we lose it,” said Harwood. Swimmers and others drawn to cliff-jumping areas also frequent Causey, located east of Weber County’s Weber Memorial Park, as do ice fishers in the winter.
The Forest Service is teaming with two divisions within the Utah Department of Natural Resources, the Division of Wildlife Resources and the Division of Parks and Recreation, in expanding the facilities at Causey. The plans, more specifically, call for:
Expansion of the existing parking zone at the Skull Crack Canyon trailhead area. Renderings of the planned expansion show it with 44 spots.
Addition of a second parking area containing around 50 spots at a level open area south of the dam.
Installation of a boat ramp, meant mainly for first responders during emergency situations, north of the Skull Crack Canyon parking area.
Harwood also said there’s been talk of implementing a minimal fee to enter Causey, which is now free to access.
The DNR and Forest Service have teamed up in developing the expansion plans and pursuing funds to complete it from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Boating Access Program. Officials don’t yet have an estimated price tag, but Forest Service and DNR resources would complement expected Boating Access Program funding.
Penne said the planned new parking lot south of the dam could take shape by as early as the fall of 2020, according to the tentative timeline. The new boat ramp and expansion of the other lot could come in 2021. “The project hasn’t gotten the green light yet, but it’s close,” Penne said.
Causey is regarded a “dispersed recreation area,” according to Harwood, which means it doesn’t have the sort of infrastructure of a more developed recreation spot. Whatever the case, it’s got its fanbase.
“There’s a lot of stuff that goes on up here and it’s becoming a really popular spot. This is just a nice little spot,” Harwood said.