Autumn Sun and Sand Island Fun

Over 60 enthusiastic boaters took advantage of a fantastic fall weekend at Sand Island along the ol’ San Juan River the weekend of November 2-4 to join the Colorado Plateau River Guides (cprg) and Grand Canyon River Guides (gcrg) in a fun-filled educational get-together. For only the second time in both organizations’ histories, a combined meeting seemed a great excuse to see some old pards and meet some new ones and to discuss some Colorado River basin-wide issues.
Thanks to cprg President Annie Payne for starting us out with a hearty pasta dinner Friday night as a fantastic sunset turned into a full moon reflecting on the Juan. Annie and World Wide Expeditions provided the kitchen gear, Annie did the food buy and kitchen hand-holding, and Teva once-again provided the support to purchase the food and beverages. Gcrg board member Dave Christensen stoked the campfire and led everyone in toasts of “Sköl” as we took advantage of Utah’s liberalizing Winter Games laws with an Olympic Trial by partaking of “Red Tarp Ale” and “Red Tarp Lager.”
A leisurely breakfast on Saturday presaged a laid-back schedule and weekend. Lisa Margetts, of Rocky Mountain Ark Wildlife Center, along with Joe Shannon and Emma Benenati, talked about North American river otter recovery and reintroduction efforts; then the best occurred as they introduced two otters on leashes for everyone to meet and watch cruise around in the water. With that beginning, how could we go wrong? Gene Stevenson followed by explaining silt build up on the lower San Juan and what possible future scenarios are in store. Kate Thompson explained how the Adopt-A-Beach program worked in Grand Canyon and offered to help with program start-up on other rivers.
After lunch, things got really lively. John Weisheit began with the Animas-La Plata pork-project and the Living Rivers upcoming demonstration against it on November 9 and segued into cprg’s stance against Grand Canyon adaptive management. Matt Kaplinski, gcrg’s twg representative, explained the amwg/twg (what Joe Shannon calls the alphabet soup) process and how gcrg will continue to be a stakeholder in it. Cprg feels that it’s wasted effort; gcrg feels that without our voice in it, things could get a lot worse. The end result: probably no converts, but perhaps a better understanding of the thinking going on.

Bob Grusy flew up from Tucson to update us on the Whale Foundation, still gathering momentum and now selling t-shirts ($10 for short-sleeve, $15 for long-sleeve, and free with a $20 donation: now that’s salesmanship!). Brad “I-never-met-a-boat-I-wouldn’t-try” Dimock regaled us with history of hard-hulled craft and hauled two for display: the infamous scow and his latest project… Buzz Holmstrom’s boat. Those craft and RJ Johnson’s dory (for sale) provided enough fodder for the assemblage to compare, contrast, and swap experiences about boats (Hey, if we can’t be doing it, we can talk about it, eh?). Annie’s chili provided the edge against the cold. Kent Frost entertained us with a few wonderful tales around the fire. There was one about tying his wife to the dog…but you’ll have to come to the “Old Timer’s” gts in the spring to hear that one. (See page 16)
Another slow-to-get-going morning led us to Pam Hyde of Southwest Rivers and their Head (the headwaters on the Green), Heart (the Grand Canyon), and Mouth (the Gulf) program. Jeri Ledbetter gave us an update on Grand Canyon overflights, overflights beginning in Canyonlands, and the status of the Glen Canyon Institute. John Weisheit filled-in for Kent Ford on another proposed dam on the Dolores River; this one by the Dolores Water Conservancy District is called wetpack, Water for Everyone Tomorrow Package (How could anyone resist! Sign me up right now!). An announcement by me about my talk with Annie concerning guide benefits, the upshot being we’re still wrapped around that rock but that there is a possibility of a medical plan through America Outdoors, wrapped up this one.
We had 48 sign the register: those with cprg affiliation–9, gcrg–18, both–14, and 7 who didn’t list. Geographically: az–20, ut–14, co–5, nv–1, tx–1, with 5 I couldn’t figure out. All the comments I heard were that we should do it again at Sand Island. Thanks again to Teva, Annie, and Lynn for pulling it off, to all the speakers and to all who made it a point to be there. If you weren’t, you missed out, but hopefully there will be another one like this.