Commercial Guides Boating Privately
I am hesitant to get into Grand Canyon politics and even discussion regarding anything except running the river because it inevitably gets heated. However, I have some input on this issue of "Who has a higher camping impact?". I will preface my thoughts with this bio: I was a commercial guide on several Western rivers for over 10 years, working both short and long trips. I never guided the Grand Canyon. I have done four Grand Canyon trips privately (1996-1999).
My first two GC trips were with other commercial boaters (none on the GC) boating as private boaters. I was a young boater and so I paid attention to the tenants of Grand Canyon specific camping. My next two trips were with commercial boaters (mainly guides in Grand Canyon and Cataract) boating as private boaters.
Without a doubt, the Grand Canyon guides (when privately boating) had a much bigger impact. No kitchen tarp, all ashes dumped directly into the river, no straining of dish water, multiple grease bombs, fireworks, flaming steel wool in a swirling coffee can, flaming watermelon boats down river etc etc. These admittedly spectacular stunts were all learned on commercial trips from other guides.
Now, there are at least several ways to look at this very small sampling of boating styles: 1) The commercial guiding style imparts a high impact camping style, or, 2) Commercial guides when boating privately, have a high impact camping style. Or, any other interpretation the reader wishes.
My conclusion was, and is, that as a commercial boatman, some people get complacent and don't feel like they need to deal with straining out the ashes etc, because "Man you should see what goes on on a commercial trip. This private boating is nothing!"
Aside from the question of guides, I pose this thought: How many of the cigarette butts you've seen on a river beach (GC included) some from Commercial Guides or Private Boaters? I suspect very few. I think that the majority of this small trash, that is everywhere when you really start to look, is from commercial passengers.
Again, these are the musings of a minimally experienced GC boater. Now let me have it...