Hey guys, whether it’s the official or “unofficial” Gore Race, it needs a Special Recreation Permit (SRP) from the Bureau of Land Management. Without that authorization, participants face fines, jail time, and civil repercussions. It’s serious stuff, and at this point it’s too late for this year to get an SRP for August.
Why? BLM issues SRPs to implement recreation management objectives and ensure fair return to the public for recreation uses on BLM lands and waterways. SRPs are required for commercial activities (e.g. outfitting businesses), competitive events (e.g. river races), organized groups (e.g. large groups that are not commercial or competitive), and for individuals in special areas (e.g. river permits for private parties in Westwater Canyon). The Gore Canyon Race – officially authorized or otherwise – is competitive and therefore requires an SRP.
So we’re asking that you help us out and hold off this year so we can ensure we have another great event next year. Gorefest is an increasingly complicated event that requires a great deal of planning and work up-front. We have a number of issues that make this a complex event - parking, camping, congestion at Pumphouse, and potential safety issues surrounding the event (Class V whitewater, the adjoining railroad tracks, communications, and emergency evacuations). We also need to do a great deal of coordination with the railroad, which has a number of concerns. These are all things that are worked out through the SRP process – that’s why it can take so long.
A little background might help. BLM met with Mark Joffee on February 21, 2007 to discuss the 2007 festival. Mr. Joffee presented his preliminary proposal and discussed possible changes to the 2006 operations. A schedule for meeting permit requirements was developed and agreed to by BLM and Mr. Joffee. By mid April BLM started hearing rumors that Rapid Pulse was not going to organize the event this year. A call to Mr. Joffee confirmed the rumor.
BLM did not hear any other news about the event until early July when I received a call from Lisa Reeder of Timberline Tours inquiring about a permit. Ms. Reeder had recently learned that a permit had not been secured for the race and wanted to know what would be required. I informed Ms. Reeder that BLM permit policy calls for applications to be submitted 180 days prior to an event. Based on the historic nature of the event and the progress that BLM, race organizers, and the railroad had made over the past few years, I told Ms. Reeder that I would talk to the managers in the office and see if BLM would make an exception. The decision was to not process a permit application. The decision was based on the complexity of the event and the need to maintain consistency with policy. BLM determined that it was unreasonable to issue a permit in such a short period of time. I informed Ms. Reeder of the decision and conveyed BLM’s commitment to work with her on a permit for a 2008 race. We agreed to start the process in January of 2008.
BLM has enjoyed a positive, and improving, relationship with both the organizers of past events and the railroad in the planning and administration of the Gore Canyon Race SRP. BLM commends Mr. Joffee and Ms. Reeder for their commitment to the sport of whitewater boating and the Gore Canyon Race. BLM Kremmling recognizes Gore Canyon as national whitewater resource and its importance to the whitewater boating community. We are committed to working with the whitewater community and event organizers to ensure the 2008 event is a safe and successful event.