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Old 10-01-2010   #31
jmcdannel's Avatar
Boise, Idaho
Paddling Since: 1989
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 159
@jonas_f, soylent_green

Quartzite's fate should have been dealt with via proper legal means and should have been open to public comment.

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Old 10-01-2010   #32
Thronton, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2008
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 665
Is it claiming lives, or just embarassing a bunch of guides when they pin or flip? If it's the latter, I'd certainly be opposed to it. Doesn't look worthy of it from a photo, but there's always more than meets the eye...

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Old 10-02-2010   #33
Boise, Idaho
Paddling Since: 1990
Join Date: Oct 2010
Posts: 1
It's frustrating that people (i.e. the payette river boating community) are getting so frustrated at Cascade for starting talks about changing/moving the pin rock. For the record, most, if not all of the guides at Cascade are not in favor of moving the rock, as it will potentially ruin THE classic rapid on the South Fork. Some, however, are in favor of filling in the sieve in front of the rock that has killed people, and very nearly killed another boater this year (the boater made it out but was very seriously injured). Filling it in will not alter the wave profile around the rock and will not change the rapid, but instead will remove a deadly feature that 99% of people running that rapid don't even know is there. We are aware that many people run that rapid clean on a regular basis. But those people aren't running it with 6-8 people that they've never met before and that frequently have never paddled a rapid. The skill it takes to only occasionally swim someone in class 4 when sometimes guiding it 3 times a day, 7 days a week is extraordinary, and cannot be appreciated until you have tried the same thing yourself. Enough of my soap box, just wanted to clarify that the Longs are not the devil, and are trying to open community discussion on what to do, not just going out there and changing things without consulting the paddling community about the river.
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Old 10-02-2010   #34
Grand Junction, Colorado
Join Date: Mar 2010
Posts: 434
I don't really have a position on this issue yet, but here's a little writeup in favor of removing the rock. It was posted on kayakidaho.com. I think it provides a little more insight than we've seen so far.

"In 2001 a massive landslide rolled down the canyon wall on the South Fork Payette and changed the river forever. Or at least a couple weeks. Most of the debris ended up right on top of the Idaho Icon, Staircase Rapid. It damed the road, cut Garden Valley off from shopping at Costco and made a giant of the famous rapid. The natural dam forced the river against the left bank. The whale rocks were completley covered with mud and debris. Birthday Hole and the rest of the riverbed for miles downstream were covered by a thick layer of mud and cobble.
It took a massive effort to open the road. Part of that effort involved undaming the South Fork. The Army Corp of Engineers parked a giant Trackhoe in the middle of the river for a week and cleaned out the river bed. Not wanting to change nature (too much) they tried to put it all back together again. They took the trackhoe and dug out the center channel and placed the rocks, those that they could move, into some semblance of their previous position. The photos of the trackhoe in the river are on the wall of the Garden Valley Post office.

The result is Staircase in its present form is a less than natural rapid. Staircase has been altered by a natural disaster and then by the Army Corp of Engineers. In the photo (thanks James McNamara) of Staircase taken the day after the flood, Deans Rock is in place. It's unlikely that the landslide altered the farside of the riverbank.
There is far more at stake here than just
moving a rock. On June 30, 2007 river guide Dean Fairburn drowned on this rock when he became entraped after bumping into the rock that now bears his name. The left run had been, until then, considerd the "safe" route for rafts. It is still the choice for commercial trips. So the rock besdes beng a hazard is loaded with emotion for Dean's friends and family. The problem is there is not longer a clean line through Staircase. Pre-flood you could slam down the middle in a raft with a high success ratio. River sports by their nature are not safe. And as it is now, going near Deans Rock is not a walk in the park. It wraps boats daily. I participated in five different unwrap situations in 2010. The season total is far above that. The middle line as flows go below 1400 becomes a no-miss collision course. The left line done right is clean. Done wrong your on the Rock.
What has happend at Staircase? Like most of the Payette it is far from its natural state due to encroachments from the road and right of way. There is nothing natural in the ACE placed observation platform. It is hard to believe that a giant flat rock, almost as if it were made, landed there on the right bank parallel with the Whale rocks. But people believe it. Nature isn't kind enough to place a giant boulder with a flat face up, so the turons can oggle the kayakers from a nice flat surface. And the Duckpond -- long-gone. The river center holes -- gone. Deans Rock -- the rock in question -- was it placed there by the landslide or by a trackhoe with a thumb? The parking lot too is the New ACE expanded version of Staircase. Oh and don't forget around 2001 the USFS dynamited a log that had floated up against the bank of the SF Payette at the take-out above Big Falls making portaging a very risky move indeed.
If outfitters, or anyone, start moving rocks around where is the stopping point? I would like to see the South Fork Surf Wave restored to it's pre Bronco Billy flood state. And I would like to see the Spin Dry move replaced in BB. Not to mention replacing the very sticky hole that was the namesake of BB. I think it would be a great playspot with modern kayaks.
On the other hand, No one seemed to complain about moving rocks around to make Kellys Whitewater Park?
As for the riverbed, it is still full of gravel and debris for miles downstream. Staircase has been altered to the point of not being anywhere near a natural rapid. The riverbed is state property. The Army Corp of Engineers along with the IDWR is the governing agency as far as modifying the riverbed. The land on both sides of the river is BLM or BOR, but that is meaningless. The USFS manages the access points and has no say in the riverbed.
This has been a hot topic with the River Management Society this summer. Not the question of altering Staircase itself, but the concept of what to do on high use rivers with an obvious or unavoidable danger. The answer so far has been to sign or portage the danger."
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Old 10-02-2010   #35
Boise, Idaho
Join Date: Oct 2010
Posts: 1
My name is Dan Crockett and I have been a raft guide on the Payette River since 1994. I have been reading the responses to the rock removal issue for several days now while forming my own opinion. I can honestly say I don't know how I feel about it yet. Personally, I am going to take the next couple of days and prepare my ideas for the forum at Maravia on the 11th.
I registered on this site for two reasons, firstly to offer to bring a brief statement from any of you that are passionate about the issue and feel that your voice will not be represented if you cannot attend. Please email them to crodan@gmail.com, I will make sure they are either read or made available at the forum. (Not sure how the whole thing is going to go). Secondly to inform those of you that are arguing that the rock should not be removed due to the incompetence of our guides that this is not the issue. I can assure you we train our asses off to attempt to bring people down the river as safely as possible. There is not one guide at our company that would want a rock removed simply because the move was "too hard."
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Old 10-02-2010   #36
Longmont, Colorado
Paddling Since: 98
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 328
Hard to see what's upstream but it doesn't look to really be a "hazard".
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Old 10-02-2010   #37
Garden Valley, Idaho
Paddling Since: 1976
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 4
Dean's Rock is not a natural part of the River. The Army Corps of Engineers placed it in 2001 after a giant mudslide plugged virtually the entire river and completely altered Staircase. As it is virtually every time a raft or kayak gets pinned Cascade Raft is called to get it off.
I did not see any complaints on this forum when the NF of the Payette was altered to put in Kelly's Whitewater Park. I have not seen any complaints about the Boise River being altered to re-direct flows into the new whitewater park their either.
If Dean's Rock was there naturally I'd be the first to say leave it be, buts its not. Cascade is simply trying to undo an unforseen hazard put in place by the A.C.E.
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Old 10-02-2010   #38
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Moscow, Idaho
Paddling Since: 1995
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 269
There is a huge difference between building a whitewater park where there used to be a tiny riffle and "removing" a hazard because a single outfitter decides it can no longer tolerate the risk. Generally whitewater parks get built because there is broad community support for the endeavor. That was the case for Kelly's and it will be the case in Boise. Where's the broad community support for moving this rock?

Plus, there is absolutely zero certainty that moving the rock will make Staircase less dangerous. Sure, it could remove a known hazard, but how will it affect the lines or the likelihood of being pushed into some other bad spot? Will moving the rock just create a new problem like in 2001? Nobody can answer those questions. I say we're better off with a known hazard that people can choose to avoid. If you can't avoid it, then you need to reconsider paddling "advanced" whitewater. If it's too dangerous to take a raft full of punters through Staircase, then don't offer the trip. Simple.

This is all about a single group forcing its risk tolerance on the entire community of river users. Cascade is attempting to sanitize a class IV rapid to reduce its liability. Guess what, class IV is dangerous and nobody is forcing Cascade to run the rapid.

If Cascade's logic was widely used, the entire Gauley would need to be "fixed." Or maybe we need "safer" rapids on the North Fork, so we can run more rafts there? This whole saga has played out before on the Lower Yough and, in the end, a rock that has killed at least nine people is still there. American Whitewater - Lower Yough Safety Report On Dimple Rock
"A river is more than an amenity, it is a treasure."
-Oliver Wendell Holmes writing for the majority in New Jersey v. New York
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Old 10-02-2010   #39
Thronton, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2008
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 665
Originally Posted by GPP33 View Post
Hard to see what's upstream but it doesn't look to really be a "hazard".

I think part of the hazard is that itís not what you can see from upstream, itís what you canít. Much like Frog Rock, itís what lies beneath thatís the hazard. If itís a sieve under there, thatís the issue. Sure, wrapping a boat sucks, but losing a life in infinitely worse.

Originally Posted by phlyingfish View Post
There is a huge difference between building a whitewater park where there used to be a tiny riffle and "removing" a hazard because a single outfitter decides it can no longer tolerate the risk. Generally whitewater parks get built because there is broad community support for the endeavor. That was the case for Kelly's and it will be the case in Boise. Where's the broad community support for moving this rock? ...

There is zero difference in my opinion. I would be opposed to building a whitewater park myself, I am not a kayaker. The kayakers would have broad community support though. Same argument regarding the Carbondale access in the other thread. Broad support for fishing access by the fishermen, the kayakers have broad support for another playpark. As time goes on, I imagine this topic will become equally polarized, with broad support on both sides of the issue.

I think itís great that thereís actually some action being taken, and swift action at that Ė a bit too swift actually, but at least there is action. As long as it goes through a thorough process and all sides are allowed to be heard, Iíd be happy with the outcome. Itís easy to just post a partial story and very little fact on the Internet and stir up a public outcry, but as more facts and data come out, I would hope reasonable and appropriate actions will take place. If one side or the other doesnít like the outcome, then they get to make a decision Ė run it anyway or run something else. If it stays a class IV, then so be it. At least maybe this will provide some education for folks to have better knowledge of the hazard. If they do something and it becomes ďjustĒ another class II, then enjoy it as another class III Ė at least youíre on the water.

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Old 10-02-2010   #40
caspermike's Avatar
Bozeman, Montana
Paddling Since: 1999
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 5,507
Boiler maker go f yourself... whitewater parks are key. You aren't a kayaker and wouldn't understand obstacle.. like I said above... wish I could have boofed on you today at pots but you don't Kayak, that's a shame.. cause rafting gets boring.... hey bet you were to stupid to realize Kayaking parks are better places for fish than most natural riverbeds. And a whitewater park restores more than it damages on most places. Leave your hermet house sometime and check one out...."damaging parks ruining class 2 I want my class 2"

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