“This is a huge step forward,” said Weber County Commissioner Gage Froerer. The number of visitors to the varied Pineview Reservoir beaches and other facilities had already been on the rise and then doubled last year compared to 2019, he estimates, as the COVID-19 pandemic took hold and people sought places to go.
Plans to upgrade Causey Reservoir will also get U.S. Forest Service funds for upgrades there, though officials aren’t sure of the precise dollar amount. That facility east of Pineview Reservoir is also getting increased use and Weber County last year expanded a parking area there to contend with the growing crowds.
“It’s basically doing stuff that we’ve needed to do for years. We get so much use out there you can’t help but wear them down,” said Sean Harwood, who heads the U.S. Forest Service’s Ogden Ranger District. According to U.S. Forest Service estimates, Pineview gets around a million visitors per year while Causey gets 250,000 people.
The two Weber County reservoirs, long the focus of upgrade talk, are within the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest and feature a range of recreational facilities. Pineview features numerous beaches and boat ramps while Causey is particularly popular among paddle boarders and kayakers.
The funding for the two sites, announced last Friday, comes from the Great American Outdoors Act, signed into law last August. The measure aims to address deferred maintenance and cover the cost of projects that “are ready to implement and provide the greatest immediate benefit to the public,” Dave Whittekiend, a Forest Service supervisor, said in a statement. Numerous other Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest sites inside Utah but outside of Weber County are also to get funding per Friday’s announcement.
Of the estimated $600,000 to be allocated for Pineview Reservoir, around half will be used to survey Forest Service boundaries with other property in the area, Froerer said. The other half will be used to plan and prioritize the upgrades to be done, he said, which will actually be funded separately. He’s not sure what the allocation for actual improvements will be, likely to focus on augmenting parking, improving beaches and addressing traffic congestion. Harwood, though, said up to five Pineview sites would likely get attention, with work, he hopes, coming next year.
Plans at Causey call for expanded parking, improvements to a restroom and addition of a boat ramp, with work set for next year or, possibly, this year. “It’s exciting. We’ve needed to do this for a long time,” Harwood said.
Planned improvements to roads in and around Causey are focus of a separate project proposal and tentatively scheduled for 2024, according to Froerer.
Officials last year announced they planned to implement a series of stopgap measures to deal with large crowds, including addition of parking areas around Causey and a number of Pineview beaches. Froerer said Monday that county officials have offered to implement short-term improvements to address crowds at the Pelican and Spring Creek beach areas but are still awaiting a response from Forest Service reps. Pineview, he said, will likely be as busy this coming summer season as last year, maybe even busier.
A total of $8 million to $10 million in Great American Outdoors Act funding is expected for improvements in the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest, according to Froerer. But it is a vast area and only a fraction of that will likely come to Weber County.