1000 may not feel like much to a good boater, but from what I heard the 600cfs level came about from local boaters who are called upon to perform rescues in there. How are they going to get someone out of there who has lost their boat, and is possibly injured (and probably hypothermic)? Paddling a two person ducky in there is about the only way I can think of; then paddling out with a (possibly injured) passenger, and one paddler in a two person duck. I have not done the run yet. So I would like to ask those who have done it over 1000, would it be reasonable to paddle a two person duck down there, maybe with one paddler and one injured victim, at levels like 1000? Are there any heli landing sites at all?
In a discussion with a buddy, one of the rangers down there asked a buddy essentially "how can we tell if boaters are prepared to go in there"? Well, here is one way, that they can verify with their own permit records; without Westwater-style inspections:
1. Continue to allow first timers in the Narrows a permit at the <600cfs level (I could argue for 650 based on the AW run description).
2. If you've done it before (verifiable by the Parks own permit records), then you could get a permit up to say 1000cfs.
3. If everyone in your group has done it between 600-1000, and everyone is prepared (recommend drysuits, etc), then you could get a permit over 1000.
How else are they going to minimize rescues in there? Put yourself in the shoes of the guys who are called upon to go in there to do a rescue, and see what else you can think of. (packraft? 10 foot raft?)
In my comments to the NPS about the Virgin, I mentioned that I think the park should have a budget for removing riverwide logs from the Narrows. That has been the main danger I keep hearing about in there. They built a paved trail to the top of Angels Landing; as well as roads and facilities throughout the park; why not take out the most lethal danger to boaters in the Narrows, and avoid exposing rescuers to dangerous conditions, spending $$$ on helicopter rescues and so forth? The log removal work could be done at a time when it would least impact other hikers; such as in the late winter.
If those ideas make sense to you, feel free to include them in your comments.