Cancellation Policy – 21 days
To submit a cancellation, please login to your Recreation.gov account and select cancel.
Cancellations must be submitted no later than 21 days prior to your launch date to avoid the late cancellation penalty.
If your cancellation is within 21 days of your launch date, you will be restricted from the Salmon River’s control season lottery for three years.
No Show Policy
If you do not show up on your launch date, you will be documented as a “No Show.” Failure to submit a cancellation of your reservation also categorizes you as a “No Show.”
No Show Penalty
No shows will not receive a refund of any prepaid fees, and are restricted from holding a permit on this river for three years.
The rules seem pretty clear. But alas, the cancellation game. I see points on both sides of the story. If you're going to play, know the rules. Are the rules lame? Sometimes. Were they "applied" differently to you than they would be to anyone else? No. If you take one outside three weeks and dump it inside three weeks, yeah, no lotto apps for a bit. Should the ranger bend? Maybe. If they bend on that, what's the new precedent for bending?
As a guy who's played the on hold game waiting for a cancellation before it was all electronic, I'd be bummed if you beat for the permit that day and then dumped it. If I were you, I'd be pissed at missing a deadline by the day. Ultimately, short term pickups and dumping make it tougher for others to plan trips on short notice so I can see why they do it. You already had the trip moving so your sister "upgrading" the permit only helped you. Might have shafted people who couldn't plan on short notice. I wonder if your launch was used.
If I scored a Main cancellation a couple days before my sister's, I probably would have looked at launching prior on the river with people that could make it (or even by myself) and then joining up with sis's group downriver. Fairly common practice to do so. You get a much larger number of people that get to go together on "two permits". Or, you get two smaller groups that get more days on the river due to group size per permit. Opportunity missed in my opinion. Maybe the permits were too far apart.
Really, it doesn't matter what I think. I've been applying for 20 years now and have received one lotto permit. The chances are getting so slim, I more plan on an invite than getting a permit. And hey, if you were going for the same dates as me, you just increased my chances by 0.01% for the next three years. Thanks.