River guides picked as forest’s partner | VailDaily.com

River guides picked as forest’s partner

Greg Masse/Glenwood Springs Correspondent

The Western Slope River Guides Association was recognized by White River National Forest regional forester Rick Cables as the forest’s recreation partner for 2003.

The guides association, which competed against 10 other nominees from forests in the Rocky Mountain region for the award, is a group of commercial and institutional river-running companies that have formed a partnership to promote and help fund efficient river launching on the Colorado River in Glenwood Canyon.

“It was basically a recognition of the work we’ve done,” said Kevin Schneider, president of the river guide association and owner of Rock Gardens Rafting in No Name.

Schneider and association vice president Bob Harris, owner and manager of Blazing Paddles of Snowmass Village received the award from the Forest Service at a recent banquet at the Denver West Marriott.

Schneider briefly explained what his association does.

“We pay a 50 cents per-head fee into a fund. It’s used to pay for equipment and port-a-potties and things,” he said.

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The money is also used for public air pumps, and for uniforms and salaries for the river rangers who control raft traffic in the canyon, a White River National Forest news release said.

“We help support them with vehicles and radios,” he said.

The association brings in an average of $35,000 to $45,000 in fees annually.

“It’s kind of a neat thing, it’s a cooperative effort,” he added. “We’re real proud about it.”

The association was nominated for the award by Cathy Kahlow, district ranger for the Eagle office of White River National Forest.

“They’ve been working with the forest for quite some time,” she said. “They’ve done it very successfully.”

The partnership involves 19 companies and has worked together since the mid-1980s. In all, the program promotes efficient river launching for approximately 60,000 commercial clients and 10,000 private boaters from June through Labor Day weekend, the news release said.

Eagle Ranger District recreation staffer Bill Johnson administrates the program.

“It’s basically like our normal outfitter program. The thing that’s different is that they pay into a fund to help administer it,” he said. “It’s a good program – it’s a people job.”