Low snowmelt buoys rafting companies
May 6, 2012
The last time Colorado snowpack was as feeble as it is this spring – at the apex of a parching drought in 2002 – commercial rafters saw summer business plummet 40 percent. Even though statewide snowpack levels are worse today than this point in 2002, rafting outfitters on 27 stretches of whitewater around Colorado are not worried.
In fact, they are happier than they were last year, when monster snowpack flooded rivers and delayed the start of most commercial operations for a month or longer.
“Sometimes during high water, our numbers are down because people want to wait for a more normal year,” said David Costlow, executive director of the 50-member Colorado River Outfitters Association. “We think this could be a normal year.”
All that snow in 2010-11 swelled rivers last summer and pinched rafting business, but it filled the state’s vast network of reservoirs. Since most every flowing river in Colorado is controlled by dam releases from those reservoirs, the rafting season shouldn’t be painfully impacted this year.
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