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I have heard stories over time that people had to carry gear by mule out of the canyon when busted without a permit ...I have seen cops running rapids in minicats on the Grande Rhone with their utility gun belts on (actually nice guys) .... I know a guy who got busted for weed by the Feds on the Rogue (almost a Swat Team was there)....I am interested in what you happens (at the worst) for traveling without a permit or misbehaving in general...thanks for sharing! -- Bongo
 

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It depends on who, what and where, and most importantly how the "offender" conducts themselves, I have a friend that's LE at the south rim, and does river patrols. He relates that since pot has become semi legal in many states, that folks don't understand that it's still illegal at Federal sites. They will issue a ticket for most anyone caught with it in the park, however how serious the ticket is depends on the offender's demeanor and how honest they are with the Ranger.

I can tell you that in my capacity as a river ranger, I put a lot of stock in how folks conduct themselves. I pull up to a camp full of drunken people and they decide to accost me with obvious lies and denials when I can see just what they were doing, well that gets them a ticket. If I pull up and am met with "I'm sorry, we didn't know, forgot, thought the ban was lifted", well they receive a stern reprimand instead of a ticket. Rangers, at least the ones I know, aren't out to ruin your time, but there are rules...

As far as mules, that's likely not going to happen, they are on a schedule hauling tourists and food etc, you get nailed poaching in GC, you're going to jail, your gear choppered out and possibly confiscated, and you left with the bill.. Chopper time is $ 5000.00 an hour.. Then you travel to either UT or CO to be arraigned at Federal court, bail set etc..

I totally get that we're all frustrated with the odds of getting a permit.. Poaching a river, especially one managed by a federal agency, well for me anyway, the possible pain if you get caught, vs. the opportunity to boat, well I don't know that I would take that chance, but that's just me. You get caught on Westwater, you'll likely be met by the Grand County sheriff at the Cisco ramp, same possibilities as Grand Canyon without the chopper bill.

Take the high road Bongo, never anything wrong with that, and lots of karma points should you need them.. The River god likes good karma.
 

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Is this part of a risk assessment?

Disclaimer: I publicly disavow poaching rivers.

I know that there were guys who got busted in duckies poaching a significant stretch of the Grand Canyon. They were discovered and were arrested, flown out by helicopter, had their equipment confiscated, charged for the helicopter ride on top of being issued $1500 fines and banned from the park for at least a year.

I know of another guy who poached a stretch down to Whitmore with his hot new stripper wife. He thought he was in the clear after he made it home without incident but the dingus went and made a YouTube video about his trip. Well, after the fact, the ex wife saw the video and was informed by a friend that what he had done was illegal. So she called the park and sent them the link to the video. He was tracked down and issued a steep fine (dont remember the number) and received a 3 year ban from the park.
 

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Chris McCandless got away with it!
There was a podcast about a guy who got caught on Westwater. The podcast was done recently, the event was many years ago. Asymmetric risk reward opportunity as nowadays your odds of getting caught are probably pretty high.
 

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All of that said...

I also know a guy who solo poached the Grand Canyon in a ducky from South canyon to Whitmore and got away with it. He stealth camped out of sight of the river and made 20-40 miles a day.
 

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Chris McCandless got away with it!
There was a podcast about a guy who got caught on Westwater. The podcast was done recently, the event was many years ago. Asymmetric risk reward opportunity as nowadays your odds of getting caught are probably pretty high.
We've caught more than one on Westwater over the 20 years I've been volunteer rangering there. Some days we'll go and sit at Cisco ramp and observe the folks taking out. Didn't see you at the put in, who's your permit holder.... Yep, busted.

One of my favorite catches was a kayaker that tried to hike into the canyon at Little Hole canyon. We were up there, with an off duty Canyonlands LE ranger following up on a report of damage to the petroglyphs when this kid and his dad come hiking down the trail with a kayak, skirt and paddle. Dad regaled us with stories of his "Olympic Hopeful" son needing the practice, and cause they were involved with the Olympics they didn't need a permit.. Yeah, right..
 

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All the info you need is right here.
 

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I wish they'd enforce the rules they do have up here on the MF and NF Flathead. The National park service does a reasonable job of patrolling and ticketing, but the Flathead NF seems to focus their efforts on research and planning more regulations without actually enforcing the ones they have. Saw BOTH NP and NF LEO's put in on the MF Flathead last year and ignore the shit-show at the put-in.

They had a prime opportunity for outreach and education. Nah, we'll leave that to the college interns.

And saw "commando" campsites with Walmart tents and Igloo coolers. No fire pans to be seen. Don't try to convince me they had groovers. Never heard of any ticketing.


But no, we're writing a new Comprehensive Resource Management Plan and permits will be one of the tools.

LEO's on the Grande Ronde, Grand, and Westwater doing their jobs? Awesome. Thank them.
Back to my libertarian proclivities mentioned in another thread: we don't need more laws, but we ought to enforce the ones we saw fit to pass in the past.
 

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My best story comes from a weekend working with Kyler Carpenter.

I had the river patrol, and when I spotted a guy trying to hide in the rocks below Staircase, I deduced that he had dragged in Westwater Wash and joined his girlfriend's group, which I had just launched. When I explained that I was going to write up a field report for the Moab LE folks to evaluate - not issue a ticket - he got mouthy and insisted on somone with authority so he could deal with it right away.

But that's not the way things were done then. So I toodled on down the river and arrived at Cisco. Unbeknownst to me, Kyler had spotted the drag marks in the wash, and called it in to Moab. So just as this fellow pulled in at Cisco and started talking to me -- still demanding prompt justice -- a fully geared up LE ranger pulled up in a light bar equipped SUV.

He got his prompt attention, in the form of multiple citations right there at the takeout.

Rich Phillips
 

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When I explained that I was going to write up a field report for the Moab LE folks to evaluate - not issue a ticket - he got mouthy and insisted on somone with authority so he could deal with it right away.
I have never understood people that mouth off and insult the person that's in the position (or process) of deciding whether to write them a ticket or simply give a them warning.
 

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But I'm amused! Very, very amused!
But you're amused by a lot of things lol. Granted, it can be fun to watch, but usually ends badly... most law enforcement people have a sense of humor, right up until they're dealing with an idiot or an asshole, and you'd be surprised how rapidly it goes away
 

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I occasionally scoff the rules. It is stupid to pack a firepan when you have no intention of having a fire, or to bring a kitchen mat when you don't have a kitchen. My experience is rangers are intelligent and forthright disclosure generally results in approval when it is clear the intent of the law is not being violated. I personally would never poach a trip. The stress would ruin the experience. There are much better ways to get on river than shaming the community.
 

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Being a ranger, I take issue with your not packing a fire pan if you're not going to have a fire. As far as the stipulations on the river I ranger on, a fire pan is required even during a fire ban, the reason being if you flip and have someone become hypothermic, you can build a fire without damaging the resource to warm them up, even during a fire ban, because saving a human life is more important... not saying you won't get a ticket if somebody finds out, but it's better than attending a funeral
 

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Being a ranger.....
Lol.
Yeah, Marshall's been a core member of the Westwater volunteer ranger program for a couple of decades doing patrols and plenty of check-ins. He's got plenty of trips on other rivers, the GC, lives in the Ark valley, used to have a frame, boat, and trailer shop and knows his shit around the water. I'd count his experience as equivalent to a lot of typical full time river rangers, and when he's on duty at Westy, he is the ranger.
 

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I started bringing the fire pan outside of fire season because of a talking to by the ranger about what if I needed an emergency fire. Then I got a talking to by a ranger that I shouldn’t have a fire pan because it’s not burn season and I’m clearly planning on breaking the law. Same river (different rangers).
 
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