On February 01, 2016, KRB attended the annual commercial outfitters' meeting with the Forest Service in Kernville. Of potential interest to members of the non-commercial boating public:
• Boaters have long considered the obstacle-filled path from the parking lot at Johnsondale Bridge down to the Limestone put-in to be a major Forest Service blunder. (See the picture above.) USFS Ranger Keli Stafford reported the rock-obstacles have caused many injuries to the public. The Forest Service is considering doing something to remedy the hazard posed by the walkway. The commercial outfitters want to put a couple railings in so they can slide their rafts down to the put-in. Since the public-at-large is suffering injuries at the hand of the walkway — not just customers of commercial trips — KRB suggested the walkway be re-paved so as to remove the obstacles and let everyone walk down on a level surface. It is unclear whether there is money for both steps (railing or leveling) to be taken. Let the Forest Service know your preference!
• The Forest Service is optimistic that, in accordance with KRB’s recommendation, the Army Corps will successfully negotiate the decommissioning of the Borel hydroproject. This will not only prevent the reservoir being drained during the Isabella Dam project; it will stop the dewatering of the Jungle Run for this generation and those to come. The Borel project greatly impedes boating opportunities but contributes a minimal green energy benefit: over the last three decades, Borel has averaged just over 7MW of energy production. To put that in perspective, in 2014 alone the state of California added 4,316MW of solar energy capacity. Only time will tell, but KRB recently reiterated its strong support for the Army Corps’ efforts to decommission Borel. You should, too.
• The Forest Service is considering making the Sequoia National Forest glass-free. This idea, which follows last year’s successful implementation of camping restrictions on the Upper Kern, promises in KRB’s estimation to keep our river cleaner and the public safer. Let the Forest Service know what you think.
• BLM was considering closing access to Granite Launch — the stairway access point to the Jungle Run just below Wallow Rock (off the 178 Bodfish ramp) — to everyone except commercial outfitters. The idea got no support and no such action appears imminent. KRB would strongly object to the closure of public access to Granite Launch. You can let the BLM know your views here.
• The Forest Service has found a source of money for two Summer 2016 river rangers. The question is whether they will be land-based or river-based. KRB supports land-based rangers, who have a much better response time and effective range of positive impact than their river-based counterparts. If you agree, let the Forest Service know.
• Outfitters expressed interest in use of the undeveloped Halfway campground (between Headquarters and Camp 3) as a put-in for their commercial trips. KRB has pushed over the last few years to maintain public boater access and, equally as important, legal public parking at Halfway. Public boaters need a place to park their shuttle vehicles; outfitters have buses that trail their parties downriver and only require no-parking loading zones. KRB does not oppose outfitter use of Halfway so long as it does not result in an exclusive no-parking zone, such as the one at the Camp 3 put-in just 1/4 mile upstream. Tell the Forest Service to preserve public parking at Halfway.