This is your chance to let the NPS know your views on kayaking in the Zion Narrows, so get your comments in. My comments:
The permit system and regulations reptaining to the kayaking the Virgin river Narrows have clearly been developed based on misinformation about the nature of the activity and serve no purpose other than to make it more difficult for qualified persons to enjoy it. As I see it, there are two primary problems. First, based on the input of people who apparently know very little about kayaking, the park has instituted a policy of not issuing permits for this section if the flow has exceeded 600 cfs in the prior 24 hours. 600 cfs is in fact more of a minimum flow than a maximum flow in the narrows. The incidents that have occurred there have not been the result of excessive flows, but rather the result of paddlers not having enough time to complete the run due to LOW FLOW before the confluence with Deep Creek. The N. Fork Virgin has a strong diurnal flow cycle that may vary over 200 cfs per day. As such, the 600cfs maxiumum leave an almost non-existent flow window for paddlers to use this stretch. The whitewater on this section is not difficult and should not be subject to a maximum flow. The park must trust kayakers, like other user groups such as climbers, to exercise some degree of personal responsibility for their own safety. Setting arbitrary cut-offs that makes this section almost impossible to use serves no purpose except to make this wonderful place innaccessible. Secondly, kayakers should be able to get permits through e-mail or fax. Almost all problems that have occurred in the Narrows have been due to the length of the run and inadequate time. By requiring permits to be issue in person, the park dictates a LATER START TIME thus dramatically increasing the chances of problems in the canyon. This policy cannot be justified by the rationale that rangers to meet kayakers to ensure that they are prepared because the park has no way of making such a determination. A ranger cannot differnentiate a prepared kayaker from an unprepared one simply by meeting them. Any such vetting rationale could be just as easily served by a telephone conversation. In summary, I urge you to consider the practical effects of the regulations currently in effect and remove those regulations (600 cfs cut off and in person permit issuance) which makes this special place more dangerous and difficult to use. Thank you.