Warm weather, good flows signal start of rafting season
Ryan Summerlin April 19, 2012
With temperatures forecasted to be in the 70s this weekend, all that snowmelt has got to go somewhere. And going with it, down the raised flows of the rivers, will be the region’s many rafters and kayakers.
“It’s about to start,” said Frank Wohlfahrt, who owns and operates IRIE Rafting Company. “We haven’t done any commercial rafting yet because there hasn’t been any interest. But we’ve been out there on our own.”
Because of this year’s low snowpack, the rafting season on some rivers is expected to be short, though others have guaranteed flows throughout the summer.
“If it turns 70 up here and it doesn’t stop, (the season) is going to be a lot quicker than if we get a few systems coming through,” Wohlfahrt said.
IRIE Rafting will be tackling the Lower Truckee River and the Middle Fork of the American throughout the summer because they have guaranteed flows. Wohlfahrt expects the North Fork of the American River to be raftable until June or so and the East Fork of the Carson River to be doable almost until July, he said.
“We’re not going to have the water resources we did last year,” he said.
After impacts from several different user groups, including rafters and off-roaders, became noticeable at Centerville Flat and several other areas on the Carson River, the United States Forest Service has proposed regulating the area.
Though camping was initially under scrutiny at the site, which includes hot springs and other sensitive habitat, the USFS will not ban the activity, according to the proposed action released April 5.
Under the proposed action, the Forest Service would limit off-road vehicles to certain routes and require the use of certain camping equipment such as fire pans and waste management. The Forest Service also plans on revegetating the area with native plants that have been affected by the increasing popularity of the area with recreationists.
Though some rafters spoke out against banning camping at Centerville Flat, South Lake Tahoe kayaker Will Anderson is skeptical of the Forest Service’s ability to protect the area with the proposed action.
“The popularity of the place has been its downfall,” Anderson said. “There’s got to be regulations and they’ve got to be enforced.”