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Discussion Starter #1
They have changed how camps are allocated on the Main Salmon River.
Here is what they sent me. This does not impact my current trip since I'm a very small group, but I would be upset if I had a normal size group.

● Groups with less than 21 people can be allocated one 30 capacity reserve camp, if one is still available after the 900 am camp assignments. For groups with less than 11 people this camp must be above the South Fork.

For those of you who know the camps on the salmon. Almost all the premimum reserved camps on the salmon fit the 30 capacity size. Also, the 20 capacity size camps are limited in number and quality and in some cases size. In the past these were available to all groups, then limited to groups over 14 and now even, what most would consider a large private group, 16 to 20 people cannot get these sites unless the large outfitters don't want them.

If the Forest Service is concerned with site damage, then limit the size of commercial groups, don't exclude others from the sites.

I'm curious what others think about this issue.
 

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There's 93 listed campsites on the Main. 30 of them are reservable. 17 of those are large group camps. At low to mid flows, there are 44 that can hold 30. That means outfitters with big groups are too big for over half the camps sites on the river and only have 17 total they can reserve and are competing with other outfitters and privates.

My point being that I like smaller groups because you are ruling out competing for half of the camps because almost all commercials are big and the Main seems to get it's fair share of big private groups and they can't fit in the smalls or can't reserve them. If your heart is set on the biggest camps and your favorites that are reservable, take 21+ people.

I have no problems with the new rule. You can still reserve one big camp at any group size and have 13 others that big groups can't. I'm not an outfitter nor have guided but I do spend some time on the Main. Why is this always about the evil outfitters? When you asked about limiting sizes of commercials, it seems biased. Why not limit the size of privates AND commercials if the discussion is about site damage?
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for the reply, my intent was to get some feed back and not bash the outfitters, but challenge the new rule that favors them.

I'm glad you brought up numbers. There are only a total of 18 camps available for groups between 10 and 20 persons. Nine of which can be reserved. Seven of which are only available at low water.

That is much fewer than the ones available for the 20 to 30 size group. In my experience, most non-commercial groups I see are in that 14 to 20 person size. That is my point. They have a much more limited choice and, in my opinion, most of the best camps are in the larger size.

Also, you state you can get one of the bigger camps if you want, well that is only if a plus 21 group does not want it.

Just because you like small groups that's fine. I do many small trips myself including solo ones. I mentioned this did not impact my current trip.

I am not against commercial trips and generally have good experiences interacting with them. This rule however benefits them to the detriment of the non-commercial ones due to their size. If the allowable trip size is a resource issue, then of course it should be changed for both commercial and non-commercial.

My main point is the system has worked for many years. The change made a few years ago already limited smaller groups from reserving the larger camps. This new rule places even greater restrictions on the common size non-commercial trip.
 

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When you say the system worked for many years, do you mean it worked for everyone? If it worked for everyone, I wonder why they changed it. Any ideas?

I guess what I'm getting at is that privates have the same choice to take a larger group if they would like. I don't think the FS got in a room and purposely figured out a way to screw the privates. Too many variables and stakeholders to keep everyone 100% happy. Individuals also have the choice to go on an outfitted trip. Personally, I don't like big trips but I do end up on one or two every year and have a good trip anyway.

I do agree some of the big sites are some of the better on the river.

I'll add that regardless of group size, I've never had a bad camp on the Main.
 

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Campsites

I may be wrong but I think there are only two group sizes on the Main, small, 1-11 people, and big 12-30.


Campsites, however, are rated by capacity, 0-20 is small and 30 is big. I know this doesn't make sense, but that's my understanding. As a practical matter the rangers have always done a good job allocating camps according the common sense and I hope this continues despite any new published guidelines.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
To Cmharris: Yes the two size system has been around a few years. They have changed it this year.

To Conundrum: I don't think the Forest Service plotted against privates, but they do respond to the squeaky wheel or other input and I wouldn't be surprised if some folks in the industry asked for the change.

Either way this new system does not seem fair to the more standard size trip whether you like going on them or not.

Not sure there is an organized enough boater group to advocate for the main salmon, but I think the private boater experience will be reduced if we don't speak up.
 

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Not sure there is an organized enough boater group to advocate for the main salmon, but I think the private boater experience will be reduced if we don't speak up.
Has anyone checked in with AW on this?
 

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Here’s the list. My understanding is that to reserve camps in yellow, you have to be 21+ now instead of 12+. So group sizes of 12-20 only get one in the yellow now. There’s 17 large group camps out of the 93. Some of those are next to each other so there is always competition for certain camps. Yeah, the 12-20 groups give up a little here. I also know plenty of large groups that have had less than ideal camps or really long river days because they couldn’t reserve something they knew would fit the group while a group of 16 could have easily taken a smaller camp but reserved a giant cool camp to play ultimate.

Double edged sword really. I was fine with the old system and I’m fine with the new one. I can see how a certain group of private boaters (mid sized groups) wouldn’t like it though.

As a longtime member of AW and other rivers conservation groups and a private boater, this wouldn’t be FS challenge I’d throw any support behind but more power to those who want to.

https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprdb5345634.pdf
 
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