OK, all you guys that want to be able to boat the Narrows in the future...
The parties that got in trouble probably did not take the Narrows run seriously enough. Did they have spare paddles, bituthene for patching split boats, flame and starter for fire? Losing a boat in the Narrows means you are swimming out miles in 45 degree water or camping for a month until the flows drop. The only rescue for a swimmer down there is an inflatable kayak. A dislocated shoulder will be just as serious. One boater interviewed by the Salt Lake Tribune is quoted as saying he was glad they closed the run because he had inexperienced boaters with him. That just seems arrogant in the face of the difficulties. The rapids may not be that difficult, but this is a deep canyon and a long committing run. In 1995, a party of local boaters almost did not make it through the canyon when they encountered a 200 ft hanging waterfall pouring into the river, nearly blocking passage to the canyon.
In 2001, the Virgin River Runners Coalition, a group of hard-core, dedicated Virgin River boaters spent 9 months negotiating with the management of Zion National Park to allow boating to continue on all sections of the Virgin River in Zion when the mandatory bus shuttle started. We had to agree to certain flow restrictions, helmets, and a sign-in procedure for management purposes. We had to present a lot of data on flows and turbidity to address concerns with endangered fish. The result was the Superintendent's Compendium which spells out the permissions and restrictions of boating in Zion, and allows us the "red" permit so we can shuttle ourselves to put-ins and take-outs. Check out the details at www.virginriver.org
What WE need now is for people who have made the run to write real, paper letters to Superindtendent, Zion National Park, Springdale, UT and express your desire to continue to be allowed to run the canyon in a safe manner. Emails are too easily ignored.
Please be respectful in your correspondence. The superintendent is doing a pretty difficult job balancing a lot of differing needs and views.
Thanks, and see you the Virgin.
Virgin River Runners Coalition