Long Family – Cascade Raft and Kayak
There has been some heated debate over the last few days regarding a permit that was issued for the removal of a rock on the rapid Staircase on the South fork of the Payette River. The reactions have ranged from genuine concern for river safety to personal attacks of character. A lot of this reaction has been formed without all of the information at hand, and hopefully we can clear some of that up.
In 2001 a MASSIVE mudslide completely wiped out the rapid known as Staircase. A dam was created and the damage was so extensive that the road to Garden Valley was cut off.
In an effort to reopen the road, the Army Corp of Engineers drudged the riverbed, placing boulders roughly where they thought they were before the slide.
In 2007, guide Dean Fairburn lost his life on the rock in question, entrapped in a sieve that was formed when the rock was placed there. Since then it has been a very common wrap spot, with at least one additional body entrapment that we are aware of. Cascade Raft guides and support staff aided in the removal of 8 wrapped private boats over the 2010 season, clearly this placed rock is a hazard to ALL river users.
Our concern is that there is a man enhanced feature on a rapid that is a clear hazard to all river users that has already claimed the life of one person. In this spirit we looked into removal of the rock. We applied for a permit, following the standard protocol set out by the State, contacted a crane operator to see if such a feat was even possible, and waited. With no intention of actually removing anything we continued to pursue this goal. We have followed all the rules and laws set out before us in investigating the manipulation of this rock. If our intentions were to remove the rock with out public comment, then we would have moved it while we had the permit before the public had a chance to comment. But that was not our goal, which gets us here, to public comment. Unfortunately some of the comments have been not directed at what rock, why, and when, but attacking a specific person and company.
The facts out there for public comment are:
- There is a rock that is in channel was placed by man,
- That same rock has become a frequent wrapping spot for private and commercial rafters
- That rock has claimed the life of one person and entrapped another that was lucky and able to free himself
- With the water as low as it is this year and Deadwood is off, there is a chance to remove the rock in a safe and controlled manner.
If this is something that seems to be a good idea and the river community supports it, the Long Family is happy to continue to move forward in the removal of the rock in question.
If it does not have the river community support, at least our conscience will be clear if someone else looses their life there.
A public forum has been scheduled at 7 p.m. Oct. 11 at Cascade Outfitters/Maravia, 604 E. 45th St., Garden City.
It seems strange to me that we all support the alteration of the steam bed to make water parks, and in some cases even compete diversion of a river, but an effort to remove a rock that has is a clear unnatural hazard is unthinkable. Kelly’s Whitewater park runs on the NF of the Payette, they dramatically altered the river, and have plans to alter the river again, but there is no condemnation or outpouring of sentiment. So do we as the boating community support altering the stream bed only when it improves our play waves and not when it can save lives?
We appreciate the community’s involvement in the river!