Thursday, January 12, 2006

Mega-Meeting with California State Parks

Whoa! EIGHT hour meeting with California State Parks. The entire California rafting industry attended the Annual Outfitters meeting on January 12th. This is a mandatory meeting with the regulatory agencies of California's rafting industry. Here, we discuss specific problems on the whitewater sections of the American River. Or we give kudos.

Kudos to the State for maintaining and designing a great egress at Salmon Falls take-out on the South Fork American River. That's mile 21 on the river. Or for those of you who have been there; that's the take-out for the Gorge section. Its good to see our user fees put to good use! Problems on the South Fork are usually regarding overuse. Thresholds were created so that certain areas were not adversely impacted by the number of users. In the last few years that threshold was met on specific days and times. That's why you'll see some bottlenecks on the river during high season. One of the reasons why W.E.T. River Trips tries desparately to stay away from the Gorge run on Saturdays is because several mega-large outfitters run that section every single Saturday. So there we are on the technically challenging upper section called Chili Bar. Our clientele love the fact that we can create a better experience for our users. Of course, if we have a group who wants to do the Gorge, we try to do a later or earlier start time depending on time of year. El Dorado County is strongly encouraging ALL outfitters to consider doing just that.

Middle Fork American was pretty much business as usual. Mostly boring stuff. Some of the new programs include a new regulatory system. A concessionaire concept has been introduced with some very interesting proposals. Rafting companies are currently looking over the new system and are hoping that business will proceed as normal.

On the North Fork American, W.E.T. was pleasantly suprised to see that we had the largest number of guests last year. And the year before. And the year before. This places us in the largest outfitter category on this river. On the most difficult section of the American River, W.E.T. River Trips has consistently provided the public with a safe and fun trip on this beautiful Class 4+ river. What we do promise, though, is that we will never pump up the numbers like over on the South Fork. That beautiful, Class 4+ river is too precious to impact in that way. Many of our early recommendations are now being implemented by all the outfitters. Wetsuits, helmets, safety kayaks are all part of this river now and W.E.T. will include them with every springtime river trip.

Price increases look inevitable since most of our governing agencies are increasing our fees. With California & our federal budget in dire straits, we understand why these agencies are looking for more revenue. Their own budgets have been decreased dramatically. What we do promise, though, is that we will package our trips in the most economical fashion to allow our users to get the "biggest bang for their buck!"

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