JUNE 2013 NEWSLETTER OF THE AMERICAN PACKRAFTING ASSOCIATION
Dear APA Members and Subscribers,
Six Months, 400 Members, 20 Countries
We've come a long way, baby. The American Packrafting Association was launched in November 2012, and now, 6 months later, we represent 400 members in twenty countries. We are a real organization recognized by the IRS and the State of Wyoming as an unincorporated non-profit association. We have an active and engaged board of directors and an executive council of some of the most accomplished adventurers in North America. We have provided testimony to Congress on packrafting access to public lands, we have been featured in several news articles and public land managers are starting to take notice.
The key to our success is building a critical mass so that packrafting is taken seriously. Keep your friends and family coming to APA â€“ we hope to pass the 1,000 member mark in 2013! If you are not a member, it is still FREE TO JOIN, so please follow this link:
URGENT ACCESS MATTERS - It is Time for You to Get Involved!.
Snake River Headwaters
In May 2013 the National Park Service and US Fish and Wildlife Service published their draft management plan for 5 newly designated Wild and Scenic rivers in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. In a misguided 3-page legal argument they dismissed any consideration of allowing paddling on the rivers except where it is currently allowed.
Thankfully for all of us who care about rivers and their responsible enjoyment, excluding paddling from this analysis is against the Park Serviceâ€™s own binding policies. APA will be filing comments highlighting their errors, and requesting a fair hard look at allowing the public to float these Wild and Scenic rivers.
We need you to get involved and tell these agencies just how you feel about packrafting being banned from public waters. If you think you ought to be able to float these rivers, please submit written comments. Personal comments are best, reflecting the value of paddling to you as a means of directly experiencing National Parks and natural wonders. Comments are due by June 30, 2013.
Here are some suggestions to guide your comments:
Express your dissatisfaction with prior policies and reports in the Parks that have banned river boating since 1950. The most recent assessment is available on our website for your review.
Express how you feel packrafting is compatible with Wild and Scenic rivers.
Request that the Parks commit to studying the compatibility of packrafting with Wild and Scenic values as required by law.
Grand Canyon National Park
The Grand Canyon is arguably the world's greatest setting for adventure and exploration, both synonyms for packrafting. The American Packrafting Association, along with American Canyoneers and the Grand Canyon Private Boaters Association, are engaged with the National Park Service in discussions on the use and management of packrafts in Grand Canyon National Park. We are cautiously optimistic that packrafts will be allowed greater access for adventure and exploration in Grand Canyon.
If you are heading to Grand Canyon with your packraft, please review our guidance on packrafting in Grand Canyon:
Packrafting Safety Code
Packrafts are fun, easy and deceptively-forgiving boats that are ideal for use in remote situations by folks with varying levels of skills. All of which causes us here at the American Packrafting Association great concern. Packrafting, like all water sports, can be dangerous and deadly. With the exploding popularity of the sport we are seeing more packrafting accidents, including fatalities.
It is easy to jump in a packraft and start bobbing down a river, but things can get out of hand quickly if you don't have the right equipment, training and experience to handle the wide variety of situations that rivers and wilderness travel present. We see things all the time that cause us anxiety, such as packrafters not wearing personal flotation devices or helmets.
Safety and access go hand-in-hand. If packrafters are perceived as reckless and dangerous, land managers might begin closing off packraft access to wild rivers and wild lands.
The American Packrafting Association has compiled a Packrafting Safety Code. We encourage you to read it, understand it, and practice it. We ask you to seek training in swiftwater safety, carry and use proper safety equipment, and model safe packrafting practices.
APA Goes to India!
APA Executive Council Member Luc Mehl and APA Board Members Moe Witschard and Brad Meiklejohn have been invited by the 2012 Golden Paddle Award Winner Zorba Lalloo and the Indian Government to travel to Meghalaya, India in the Fall of 2013.
APA's first outreach initiative will provide boats and water safety workshops in Meghalaya, Northeast India, an area in the foothills of the Himalaya that is blessed with an abundance of wild rivers. Our objectives are to promote eco-tourism with video documentation, and local environmental awareness by getting locals to play in the water.
We would like to leave some boats behind for the people of Meghalaya, and we are actively seeking donations of your old, damaged, or heavily used boats. In exchange, we will ship you a 24 x 36â€³ canvas print of any photo from thingstolucat.com. Follow the link and contact Luc for more information!
Packraft Fest 2013
Kennicott Mountain Guides announced the first annual Packraft Fest in McCarthy, Alaska on July 27th and 28th. This event will feature packraft races, slalom and obstacle courses, gear and safety demos, adventure films, music and general good times. Watch for more information about this event on the APA Facebook page (www.Facebook.com/AmericanPackraftingAssociation). We would be delighted if other packraft fests sprouted elsewhere around the world.
APA now maintains the packrafting forum for our members (www.packrafting.org). This is the go-to site for information about all topics related to packrafting, including gear, routes, river conditions, partners, and much more.
APA is seeking sponsorships from business, including gear companies, retailers, and guides and outfitters. If you or your business are interested in being a sponsor of APA, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Donations and Stickers
APA is a lean and efficient organization that can travel light, fast and far on a dollar. We do need some money and welcome your support. APA is organized and recognized as a 501(c)(3) non-profit association, and donations to APA are deductible to the extent allowed by law.
You can donate through PayPal at the APA website (www.packraft.org) or by mailing a check to:
American Packrafting Association
3948 Hawthorne Lane
Wilson, WY 83014
APA has logo stickers that look great on your helmet, paddle, truck and coffee mug. If you would like to get two of these stickers and support APA, put a $1 bill in a self-addressed stamped envelope and mail it to the address above.
The APA Board of Directors
Brad Meiklejohn, President
Tom Turiano, Vice President
Amy Hatch, Secretary
Moe Witschard, Treasurer
The APA Executive Council
Kevin Colburn, Missoula, MT
Mike Curiak, Grand Junction, CO
Chris Erickson, Portland, OR
Michael Fiebig, Bozeman, MT
Bretwood Higman, Seldovia, AK
Ryan Jordan, Bozeman, MT
Andrew McLean, Park City, UT
Luc Mehl, Anchorage, AK
Jeff Pflueger, Berkeley, CA
Rich Rudow, Phoenix, AZ
Mik Shain, Jackson, WY
Scott Solle, Sandy, UT
Brian Whitlock, Bozeman, MT