See below the email that I wrote Thomas early yesterday morning and his reply. He was polite in reply, but I'm not sure I buy that it was an editor's mistake. Don't editors get paid to correct errors like that?
You've probably gotten an earful from the boating community on this one already, but I'll chime in as well. The second to last paragraph in the "Officials Identify Lost Kayaker" story yesterday is dangerously inaccurate. You live and report for a paper in a town that is filled with world class kayakers. How could you get your whitewater rating scale so wrong? Why not make a quick trip (or call) to 4 Corners Riversports and ask for info on the currently used rating scale? Vallecito Creek is rated as Class V+ by all sources that I know. What source said that it is Class II or III? In one sentence you describe Class IV as "yet unconquered", then call Vallecito class V+. Kayakers run Vallecito safely on a daily basis every spring.
In the future, if you need more information for a whitewater story (which is likely in Durango), www.mountainbuzz.com
has a "Boater's Forum" full of experts to answer any questions. Americanwhitewater.org is another great source for information regarding specific rivers and creeks. And to reiterate, you are surrounded by expert kayakers. Use them.
Thank you for your input. The most dangerous whitewater is of course a VI, but it appears an editor chose to change the Roman numerals to arabic numerals and mistranslated a VI into a 4. As far as the "danger" of calling Vallecito Creek a 2 or a 3, that was precisely my point. There is misinformation out there. Perhaps I could have made clearer that the "V+" appears to be the accurate rating.
Thanks for your help. I will definitely follow your advice when I write about whitewater again.