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Old 04-22-2004   #11
Lakewood, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1992
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 30
The ranger told me that since my PFD didn't specifically say that it was intended to be used for whitewater kayaking, I could not use it (Due to the fact it was a type V PFD. If it was a type III PFD I would have been ok (according to the ranger). The way to get around this is to have your PFD on when you get checked. The ranger usually won't make you take it off. This was the only time that I was ever checked out of about 7 Westwater trips. As for Stohlquist and the PFD's I have seen made by them, they are ok. The wording on the PFD label says that it can be used and/or is designed for whitewater kayaking.


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Old 04-22-2004   #12
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 1
check "intended use"

All US Coast Guard approved life-saving devices, wearable or otherwise, are assigned a "type" as well as an "intended use". This information is usually printed on the top two lines of the sewn-in label.

The Lotus Lowrider label's second line reads: "intended use: a pull-over device -type V pfd". The reason that the Westwater Ranger would not allow it on the river was almost certainly because it does not have the words "paddling", "kayaking", or "whitewater".

All other Lotus PFD label's read "intended use: paddling vest" and are allowed. While Lotus Designs certainly intends for the Lowrider to be worn for paddling whitewater, the Coast Guard didn't recognize it in exactly that way.

-Mark Blume, Lotus Designs

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Old 04-22-2004   #13
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 112
Aside from the fact that I have been banished from ever paddling with Double-O-Ron, and labeled an idiot and worthless by Mountainbuzz's official arbritrator intelligence and self-worth, this is getting interesting.

Yes, I know there are plenty of government employees who are honest hard working citizens, smart, good publice servants, etc., and do not fit my stereotype. In fact, I work for the government myself, whether I as much value to society as the ranger at Westwater - I'll let Double-O-Ron decide that. Unfortunately in much of government culture, particularly law enforcement, it seems that excercising judgment is not a good a quality. Why and whether this is a good thing is a whole different debate? I merely stated a stereotype in light of the first post that seemed to typify this image. Maybe the ranger made the right call, although I am still a little skeptical.

MAYBE he knows something that we don't ...

MARK AT LOTUS: Why did the Coast Guard not give that PFD its blessing for use for "paddling"?? This is a very curious? I assume the coast guard blessed the final verbiage on the label? Finally, what is the difference between what is on the jacket and one that is specifically approved for paddling?

To be fair to the ranger there (if it was the same one) he has let a party through that I was with that had cut-up one gallon plasitc water jugs for "hand paddles." So I know he is capable exercising judgment and was in fact pretty pleasant when I encountered him and we all had a good laugh when we showed him our "hand paddles."
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Old 04-22-2004   #14
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 2
Just so everyone is clear, Westwater Rangers (and any Rangers working on a whitewater stretch in Utah for that matter) can not approve a PFD, regardless of its make, appearance, or past use, if the label does not specifically list it as approved for paddling, kayaking, or whitewater. This requirement is Utah State Law; the Westwater Rangers are simply enforcing State requirements. I spoke with Utah State Parks to ensure there is no discrepancy between what the Rangers are saying at the ramp and the intent of the law. He said the Rangers were correct in refusing the PFD in question.

I am more than happy to discuss this further with anyone interested. Call me at (435) 259-2136. My e-mail address is

Thanks for your time,

~Chad Niehaus
Outdoor Recreation Planner
BLM Moab Field Office

P.S. Thanks to Mark at Lotus for his input.
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Old 04-22-2004   #15
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 112
hey chad thanks for the information

but that raises yet another question, what is a federal employee doing enforcing state law on federal land?

maybe the federal government has ceded jurisdiction in this pfd matter, but, generally the federal government has no power to enforce state laws in federal court. however, these jurisdictional issues are incredibly complex and in this instance perhaps he was right to enforce the utah law. i don't know, but I do not think the mere statement that he was following state law is acceptable, unless, of course, the state law applies. Your answer presumes that it does and you may well be correct. I don't even know what the state law says, for that matter.

At any rate, whoever is enforcing the law should have the answers. . . and be right. Lest someone's trip be ruined b/c of wrong or poor intrepretation. And if they don't know, they need to use their judgement and make the call, based on, among other things, common sense, which seems to have been lacking here.

Sorry to raise so many questions, and please don't take this as a personal attack and label me an idiot. I am just trying to be well-informed and get the right answers, which are often not the easy the ones.
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Old 04-23-2004   #16
ski/kayak bum
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 460
It doesn't feel good to get labeled, so instead of rambling on about someone you obviously don't know, and talking about something that you admit you know nothing about, keep your uninformed opinions to yourself. Those laws and enforcement of those laws are there for a reason. They help keep the boating community safe. They help lawmakers explain to their constituents why they won't have to spend lots of tax money doing wilderness rescues. In actuality, those laws and those who enforce such laws probably help keep rivers available for use by us. Don't forget that the rangers probably went through the campsite and picked up trash after checking gear. Those same rangers have helped unpin some poor guys boat. They have probably taken someone just like you or I out of that canyon because they couldn't make it out themselves. Think about those kinds of things before calling people who help us names.

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Old 04-23-2004   #17
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 85
Double-a-ron. Why are you so angry. Matobs is just trying to clear a situation up. I think his points are valid. There no doubt Utah has many f'd up laws, that don't make sense. Its a big reason why myself and many friends live here rather than there. Obviously there is a problem with the sytem if you can use one jacket and not another nearly identical one, cause of some damn label. Take it all in relax. You don't need to edit this forum.
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Old 04-23-2004   #18
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 112

i don't want this to get anymore personal than it already has. as amusing as such debates are, in the end they are pointless and really do not get you anywhere.

i feel that i have asked a number of valid, reasonable questions, or as you have chosen to label them uniformed opinions.

chad stated that the ranger was enforcing a state law on federal land. i know that, in general, federal employees (even federal law enforcement officers) have absolutely no authority to enforce state laws on federal land. that is a fact, and one that is well informed at that. now hopefully chad will respond to why this ranger was enforcing a state law if, in fact, that is what he was doing, because in general this should not be happening. but like i said it is complex area and there are exceptions and this might be one of them.

i also want to know why the lotus pfd is not approved for by the coast guard for whitewater paddling.

if you have the answers to these questions, let's hear them. if not, don't ridicule me for trying to find out.

and yes the rangers do all those great and wonderful things, but that is what that get paid to do, and they get paid, to do it right. there's plenty of people that would love to have a that federal job, so they are doing it, b/c that is all that could find. they are doing it b/c it is a great job, and yes they may very well believe they are helping society, which is great for them. but let's not elevate these folks, as you have done, into some sort of completely altruisic mother theresa type volunteer. they are paid employees and that job is a pretty good one, despite having to pick up trash.

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Old 04-25-2004   #19
ski/kayak bum
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 460
"at some point many government employees evolve into that subhuman status of the bureaucrat. sounds like that dude has made the transition from being to think for himself, use common sense, and take responsibilty for his decisions, and is now a fully certified bureaucrat in a perpetually state of brain freeze. sad story."- Matobs

maybe you did start to ask some interesting questions, that doesn't excuse the above qoute. I'm just defending the people you have called subhuman and thoughtless. I'm sure that they are neither. I also see nothing wrong with public service paid or not. I just appreciate all that they do for us. I don't think that the above qoute shows how these people should be seen. I'm not trying to edit this or any forum. I'm just not letting people get away with careless statements. I'm actually a pretty happy guy, and happier when people don't talk out of their asses.

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Old 04-25-2004   #20
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 67
I'm new at these posts so. . .
. . .anyway, thanks to the Westwater Rangers for reading these posts once in awhile (some are funny, eh?). Perhaps the folks at Lotus will edit and define more clearly the intended uses of their lifejackets that so many of us own (including the two of us).
I'm heading down Westwater on my permit in a month with our Lotus lifejackets I now know are "Westwater Legal", and I need to find 3 more "legal" lifejackets for the 1-3 never-ever's I'm taking with me.

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