November 8-- Willard Spur is still very dry in nearly all areas and the BRBR has not opened the O-Line, so no water is flowing into the dogears (C- Blocks). BRBR is flowing a lot of water out from the tour loop, but it is mostly flowing right out to Bear River Bay until it fills enough to backfill into some marshland. The phrag along the flows are getting pounded by hunters daily. Pintail Flat fluctuates greatly from week to week, last week the access to the GSL was barely passable due to flows out of Ogden Bay being reduced. This will change a lot so please enter with caution.
Sept 20, 2021--The WMA gates are open. Farmington Bay has acceptable launching conditions, but the marshes are very difficult to access. There are birds are around but conditions will be very crowded as many airboats will be crowding into very little space. Pintail ramp has good launching conditions, but the channel currently does not make it completely to the lake and dries out in several long stretches after the main flow ends. It is very dry out there.
Willard Spur has marginal launching conditions, (low water) and is very, very low until the end of the main flow. The Spur has a pool of water that reaches along the Willard Bay dike but it ends there and no access to any wetlands farther west is currently available.
Bear River Refuge launch conditions are unknown as of this update.
The Utah Airboat Association is submitting the following comments regarding the regulation of commercial guiding on Waterfowl Management Areas:
The current lack of regulation has allowed abuses and overcrowding of public waterfowling areas, resulting in the lack of hunting opportunity for non-paying hunters. The Utah Airboat Association feels that there needs to be some guidelines established. The DWR polling shows that the vast majority of waterfowlers in Utah do not want commercial guiding in WMA’s. The Airboat Association agrees with this and agrees with the elimination of commercial guiding on WMA’s.
If commercial guides are allowed (with a Special Use Permit) to cross WMA boundaries and use WMA parking lots, then these boats and vehicles should be clearly marked with signage and numbers that allow for easy identification from a distance anytime a commercial boat is on the water or while vehicles are parked in a boat launch parking area.
All guide boats must keep a user log to record all uses of any vessel operated by a commercial entity that crosses a WMA boundary, the number of hunting AND scouting trips, the number of customers hunting, and the harvest data of birds taken during the commercial hunt. This log should be readily available at all times for inspection by the DWR or any other law enforcement agency. The data collected should be used to determine impacts on resources and waterfowl.
The DWR should limit the number of guide permits that allow the use of a WMA parking area of for crossing a WMA property line to no more than 3 boat permits each year with a review process by the DWR before any renewals.
The DWR should establish a complaint process for the public to log abuses by guide services.
Special Use Permit rules should be issued by the DWR rather than having each WMA manger create his/her own set of rules.
The DWR should implement a study on the effects of excessive hunting pressure by commercial guiding on species such as green-wing teal and northern shovelers.
Willard Spur WMA has two duck clubs currently operating within the WMA boundary. These clubs have an agreement to continue to operate but should be subject to the same reporting and special identification requirements that any other guide service would be required to comply with.
Utah Airboat Association