Arizona Raft Adventures
The V Wave
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April 2011 - Vol 5, Issue 1
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By Ralph Hopkins

Hello and welcome again to the Arizona Raft Adventures and Grand Canyon Discovery bi-annual e-newsletter. Now in the fifth year of publication, The V Wave, (named after the legendary wave in Lava Falls rapid) keeps you connected with AzRA Discovery, the river community, and the Canyon. This issue features a guide profile on Sharon Hester, two Environmental Impact Statements up for public comment, a new addition to the drag bag, and a great article about a cooperative effort to manage recreation impacts in the Canyon. We are in full gear around the office and warehouse as we begin the 2011. We have trips on the water reporting blooming brittlebush and red buds. We hope you are enjoying your Spring too! (Photo by Ralph Hopkins)

By Ralph Hopkins
AzRA is now accepting reservations for the 2012 river season. The 2012 trip departure dates and prices are available online. You may notice, we have eddied out the prices for 2012 and hope both repeat and new guests will appreciate the price freeze.

In addition to our oar and paddle trip (referred to as the "hybrid"), our 100% all paddle trip, and our motorized trip options we also have fantastic specialty trips. Our specialty trips are increasing in popularity each year; the 2011 Natural History, Dory and Stories, and the Yoga Workshop are booked to maximum capacity. If you book space on one of AzRA's 2012 specialty trips between now and May 31st, we will offer you an additional $100 off of your reservation if you mention this issue of The V-Wave! If you are still thinking you might like to go in 2011, there is space available and we still have select 2011 trips at reduced rates. (Photo by Ralph Hopkins)
Sharon Hester
Sharon Hester, also known as "Shay" by friends and guests, has been guiding for Arizona Raft Adventures since 1982. One hundred and forty seven trips later, Sharon still loves being part of the transformation of uniting her guests with the Grand Canyon on trips. She enjoys exploring the side canyons and vistas, eating dutch oven baked chili rellenos, and bird watching. In fact, she always has her binoculars handy alongside her bird identification book for use by the guests on her boat.

With her years of experience, she has many favorite moments on the River. She clearly remembers the high water years in 1983-1984 when the river flowed between 30,000-100,000 cfs. Another favorite experience included a 9-day solo kayak trip in April of 1990. In fact, if you would like to read a short story written by Sharon about her solo trip, click here. And more recently, an incredibly dramatic three day storm in October of 2010. She said the number of waterfalls associated with the storm was unlike any she had seen in her entire career.

In addition to guiding, Sharon has been an ambulance driver, an emergency room aid, adjunct instructor at Prescott College, a kayak instructor, a radiology technologist, and a travel agent selling Grand Canyon river trips for Rivers and Oceans. More recently, Sharon was hired for a full-time year round position as a Reservation and Retail Coordinator in the AzRA office. Her knowledge of the Canyon is evident as she easily answers questions regarding aspects of a river trip and enjoys talking to guests on the phone. Sharon plans on using her vacation time to guide. She said, "Vacation for me is unwinding, regrouping, and doing what I love. Why wouldn't I want to spend it guiding?" This is great news for our guests - you may get to spend your vacation with Sharon on vacation! (Photo submitted by Sharon Hester)
By Ralph Hopkins
There are two public comment periods currently open evaluating the Environmental Impact Statements (EIS) on two controversial issues impacting the Grand Canyon: uranium mining and over flights. Public participation is important for developing a successful environmental plan. Therefore, we ask for your thoughtful evaluation and comments on the issues up for discussion at this time.

The Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) that addresses potential effects of withdrawing Federal lands from locatable mineral exploration and mining near the Grand Canyon in Arizona is now available for public comment and ends soon - the public comment period deadline is only a couple weeks away, ending on May 4, 2011. To read more about the DEIS, see supporting online documentation, and to submit your comment, click here.

The second issue up for public comment is the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Special Flight Rules Area in the vicinity of Grand Canyon National Park to restore the natural quiet airspace above and around the Park. Although there has been progress under the previous regulations, they have not achieved substantial restoration of natural quiet. According to a recent press release, there are four alternatives for actions to manage aircraft over flight activity to restore quiet in the park. To read these options and provide your public comment, click here. The deadline for the public comment period is June 20, 2011.

To write a substantive comment, consider advice provided in a newsletter issued by the BLM Arizona Strip District Office (BLM Arizona Strip District Office). The BLM recommends including one or more of the following points within your comment:
  • question with reasonable basis, the accuracy of the information in the DEIS,
  • question, with reasonable basis, the adequacy of, methodology for, or assumptions used for the environmental analysis,
  • present valid new information relevant to the analysis,
  • present reasonable alternatives other than those analyzed in the DEIS,
  • cause changes or revisions in one or more of the alternatives.
(Photo by Ralph Hopkins)
The Lumberyard Red Ale
Guests who prefer the finer tastes of a beer chilled to the 55 degree Colorado River will likely be delighted to know there are several local microbrews now available in aluminum cans. Flagstaff beverage retailer Rich Stevens, at the Cork'n Bottle, has been selling beverages to commercial and private river trips for 28 years. He says the popularity of river runners purchasing canned microbrews has increased over the past few years. Although the cost of a microbrew exceeds the typical cost of a domestic brew, beer lovers enjoy having brew options which now include the Red Ale by The Lumberyard Brewing Company (Flagstaff, AZ), IPA and Amber made by the Grand Canyon Brewing Company (Williams, AZ), and IPA and Special Ale from the Ska Brewery (Durango, CO).

There are benefits to buying local microbrews. For example, purchasing a product made by the community keeps local dollars within the community. In addition, microbreweries are notorious for keeping high standards for reducing their environmental impact and a philanthropic stance for giving back to the community in which they live. Finally, with gas price per gallon and an estimated one pound of carbon emitted per mile driven, brewing and selling locally saves in cost and environmental impact of transporting the product.

If you are on a lower Canyon trip, new microbrew options are on the Beverage Order Form along with several non-alcoholic choices. If you are on a trip beginning in Flagstaff, the Safeway supermarket carries typical canned beverages including a couple local microbrews, and is within walking distance of the Radisson Hotel. However, if you seek a wider selection of canned microbrews, including those listed above, visit the Cork'n Bottle establishment located at 824 North Beaver Street. If you have any questions or seek the guidelines for what is provided and what you can bring, refer to the Frequently Asked Questions page on the AzRA website or call the office at 800-786-7238.
By Dave Edwards
Grand Canyon National Park staff and guides from Arizona Raft Adventures joined together last fall on the Colorado River Management Plan (CRMP) Mitigation Program trip. The goal of the trip was to help meet the objectives of the CRMP in managing river recreation impacts to resources. The CRMP mandates that both monitoring and mitigation work trips are designed to determine what impacts are occurring, how these impacts alter resource conditions, and how adverse impacts can effectively be diminished. The NPS and the Grand Canyon River Outfitters Association (GCROA), of which AzRA is a member, recently renewed their cooperative agreement to accomplish a variety of rehabilitation and maintenance projects at camps and attraction sites along the Colorado River. The trip last fall consisted of a variety of skill sets from restoration biologists, archeologists, recreation planners, trail crew, river rangers, and river guides including six AzRA guides: Somer Morris, Holly Gardner, Paul Giffin, Laura Fallon, Jeff Pomeroy, and David Edwards.

One of the impacts addressed on the trip included vegetation damage. Vegetation damage is usually caused by social trailing and trampling of grasses, shrubs, cactus, and the biological soil crust, also tree, shrub and cactus damage from campsite pioneering or illegal firewood gathering, and tree and shrub damage from unauthorized and improper pruning at campsites and attraction sites. Projects included multi-day stops at Soap Creek, Kwagunt, Unkar Delta, Hance Creek, Deer Creek, and 202 Mile Camps. Another impact the group tended to were social trails. Social trails are made when excessive and damaging trails are found leading from the post dam riparian zones of camps and attraction sites to the pre dam high water zones usually identified by damaged soil crust, gully formation, broken vegetation, and compacted soils. The pre dam high water zone is home to fragile plants and biological soil crusts that are easily damaged. The last main objective of the trip was to address areas experiencing an increase in trail erosion. Trail erosion happens when weather and natural conditions wear away the trails and usually occurs when water runoff is captured within the existing trail resulting in soil loss.

You have likely seen evidence of these incredible efforts on your last trip. You walked on a maintained trail so delicately integrated within the environment around it that you hardly noticed! Now you know these improvements are not made easily, but rather a product of hard labor by a dedicated and motivated group of individuals like the AzRA guides on the last Mitigation Trip. They came together to help preserve and protect the Colorado River's resources to provide a quality visitor experience to you and future recreationists in the Colorado River corridor. If you get a chance to run the River with Holly, Somer, Paul, Jeff, Laura or David, you can thank them yourself. You might even get a behind the scene tour of the sites they worked on last fall. (Photo: Somer Morris helps to repair damaged soil. Submitted by Dave Edwards)
Grand Canyon Wildlands Image
Make a charitable contribution to the Grand Canyon Wildlands Council this Earth Day and Arizona Raft Adventures will match your contribution dollar for dollar up to $100 per person! The Grand Canyon Wildlands Council focuses on habitat restoration and ensuring the existence, health, and sustainability of all native species and natural ecosystems in the Grand Canyon ecoregion. Donation must be from an AzRA guest (past, present, or future), post marked by Earth Day (Friday April 22), and accompany the following form. Mail donation and completed form directly to the Grand Canyon Wildlands Council at PO Box 1594, Flagstaff, AZ 86002. Thank you for your generosity and Happy Earth Day to everyone!
By Mary Price
Thank you Mary Price for submitting this fantastic photo from 1991 featuring a classic group of AzRA guides scouting Crystal Rapid including Jon Hirsh, Martha Clark, Brian Peterson, Mary, Wesley Smith, and Dave Lowry. Thanks Mary for sharing!

We are available for free Skype to Skype international phone calls during our regular business hours. Our contact name is arizona.raft.adventures.

Before we close this issue of The V Wave, we would like to remind you AzRA has a Facebook page and a YouTube Channel. Our Facebook page features a Tip of the Week, photos, discussions from guests, announcements, and more. Our Youtube Channel features video clips and AzRA's five promotional clips.

Once again we would like to thank you for river seasons full of wonderful memories and for taking time to read our newsletter. We hope you will choose to continue receiving this publication so we may stay connected. In fact, we appreciate input and if you have suggestions for future newsletters such as article topics, river stories, photos, poetry, or artwork to share, please email us.

See you downstream!

(Arizona Raft Adventures and Grand Canyon Discovery are concessioners under contract with the U.S. Government and administered by the National Park Service.)

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Arizona Raft Adventures and Grand Canyon Discovery

phone: toll free at 800-786-7238