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SUMMARY OF RESOURCE AND SOCIAL INDICATORS ON THE GAULEY, NEW, CHEAT, SHENANDOAH, AND TYGART VALLEY RIVERS IN WEST VIRGINIA

A Summary Report Submitted the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources as Part of Design, management, and implementation of a Limits of Acceptable Change (LAC) process for a three-year study on the Gauley, New, Cheat, Shenandoah, and Tygart Rivers of West Virginia
by:
Steven A. Whisman, Steven J. Hollenhorst, and Christopher Jones
Research Associate, Associate Professor, and Doctoral Candidate
Recreation, Parks, and Tourism Management Program
Division of Forestry
West Virginia University
Morgantown, WV 26506-6125




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CONTENT OF THIS DOCUMENT:

INTRODUCTION
DATA SOURCES
WHITEWATER STUDY ZONES
SUMMARY OF FINDINGS
A LIMITS OF ACCEPTABLE CHANGE
(LAC) RIVER MANAGEMENT FRAMEWORK
AN ALLOCATION METHODOLOGY FOR COMMERCIAL RAFTING IN WEST VIRGINIA
RIVER SAFETY
REFERENCES


INTRODUCTION

A Limits of Acceptable Change (LAC) decision process was adopted by the West Virginia Whitewater Commission for five commercial whitewater rivers in the State of West Virginia: the New, Gauley, Cheat, Tygart, and Shenandoah rivers. Originally, LAC was developed in response to the need of managers for a means of coping with increasing demands on recreation areas in a visible, logical fashion, and represents a re-formulation of the recreational carrying capacity concept. However, with LAC, emphasis is given to the environmental and social conditions desired for a recreation resource, rather than how much use the resource can tolerate. The LAC process was selected for the five study rivers in West Virginia to provide a framework for establishing acceptable and appropriate resource and social conditions.

The legislation that created the Whitewater Commission and authorized a three year study to implement the LAC process identified four primary issues, concerns, and opportunities (ICO's) for the five study rivers: (1) congestion and crowding; (2) participant safety; (3) environmental impacts; and (4) economic impacts. Environmental and economic impact studies were conducted and are reported in separate documents. Contained in this report are findings from the inventory of social and resource indicators related to crowding and safety. Social and environmental indicators relevant to congestion, crowding, and safety were identified cooperatively among WVU investigators and representatives of the Whitewater Commission, and a comprehensive inventory of selected indicators was initiated in the spring of 1995 on the study rivers.

The Whitewater Commission was directed by the same legislation authorizing the study to formulate and implement "rational criteria" for and river allocation methodology for the West Virginia whitewater industry, including the specification of minimum allocations to be conferred with commercial whitewater licenses on each study river. As well, depending on conditions on the five study rivers with respect to the primary ICO's described above, the Commission was authorized to issue additional licenses for commercial rafting purposes. To this end, study investigators worked with a committee appointed by the Whitewater Commission to develop a river management framework based on the Limits of Acceptable Change model and an allocation methodology for the commercial whitewater industry in West Virginia. The resulting river management framework and allocation methodology also are described in this report.

The four primary ICO's provided a basis for developing objectives for the LAC study. The objectives were numerous and are summarized as follows:


Develop an LAC framework for use by the Whitewater Commission in their efforts to develop commercial whitewater management plans for the five study rivers;Inventory the occurrence, amount, and concentration of commercial whitewater use of segments of each river designated as whitewater zones, and how use levels are dispersed over time;Determine standard operating procedures and format of the whitewater industry on each study river (i.e., trip sizes, equipment specifications, launch schedules, etc.);Determine the nature of safety programs/procedures practiced by each outfitter and identify indicators of participant safety;Identify and inventory environmental impacts of whitewater use as it relates to river access, day use, and overnight sites;Identify and inventory experience preferences, expectations, and corresponding satisfactions of commercial and noncommercial whitewater users, including comments of professional guides as to trip quality;Assess levels of perceived crowding and perceived safety among whitewater boaters;Evaluate economic impacts of commercial whitewater tourism on local communities in proximity to the study rivers and the State of West Virginia.


It should be noted that the third objective was not completed. A survey of commercial outfitters licensed to operate in West Virginia was designed to collect this information. However, low levels of participation among outfitters resulted in insufficient survey response rates to successfully completed this objective.

A summary of findings from the inventory of selected indicators of the primary ICO's is presented below. Detailed reports on the environmental impacts of commercial whitewater rafting on each of the five study rivers and the economic impacts of the industry have been prepared as separate documents.


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DATA SOURCES

The scope of the LAC inventory required multiple techniques for collecting and compiling data from primary and secondary sources. Direct observations of river use and customer surveys were the predominant means of data collection. Secondary information about commercial use of the rivers and related whitewater injuries, primarily from the WV Division of Natural Resources (DNR), provided a substantial proportion of the data set. Environmental impact assessments were performed during the later stages of the use season to document worse case conditions for each river. Data collection techniques are briefly described below:

Direct Observations

Direct observations were used primarily for three purposes:

1. To obtain boat counts at designated sites along the rivers to document the patterns of whitewater traffic flow. Counts were performed at 15 minute intervals at 2 to 4 sites along the river, depending on availability of workers and seriousness of congestion problem.

2. To obtain tallies of river incidents assumed to be linked to participant safety and congestion or crowding.

3. Assess the number, location, extent, and current condition of impact sites related to commercial whitewater river use. Impact sites included river accesses (put-in and take-out sites), river access roads, and river recreation sites (lunch sites, overnight sites, etc.).

Observers used standardized forms developed for this study to record observations on river traffic, rivers incidents, and impact sites.

Customer Surveys

The major objectives of the customer surveys were to collect information leading to the evaluation of commercial whitewater recreation in terms of the following themes:

1. Perceptions of crowding
2. Perceptions of risk and safety conditions
3. The quality of and satisfaction with the whitewater rafting experience
4. Support/opposition for alternative river management actions
5. Resource impacts
6. Economic impacts

The customer survey was divided into 3 separate units to collect data for the evaluation of: (1) economic impacts; (2) experience quality and crowding; and (3) perceptions of and attitudes toward river management. All three versions of the questionnaire were administered simultaneously to separate subsamples of commercial whitewater participants. The different sections of the survey instrument were distributed to customers systematically.


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WHITEWATER STUDY ZONES

West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (DNR) was directed by section 20.2-23a of the West Virginia Code to provide law enforcement and regulate all aspects of commercial river use within designated "whitewater zones." Consequently, the authority of the DNR encompasses all navigable sections of the all five study rivers. However, the study rivers flow through a varied mix of private and public lands and multiple management jurisdictions exist. The section of the Gauley River that was the primary focus of study flows through the Gauley River National Recreation Area. Consequently, the US Department of Interior National Park Service is authorized to administer, develop, and manage land based activities within the administrative boundaries of the National Recreation Area. Similarly, the New River flows through the New River Gorge National River and the Shenandoah River flows through the Harper's Ferry National Historic Park. As on the Gauley River, the National Park Service is responsible for land based activities while the DNR regulates commercial river use.

Sections of each river designated as whitewater zones are as follows:

Gauley River Whitewater Zones

Approximately twenty-six miles of the Gauley River has been designated a "whitewater zone" by the WV Whitewater Commission, from its confluence with the Summersville Dam to the railroad bridge at Jodie, WV. This zone is further subdivided into three shorter segments:

1. From Summersville Dam to Mason's Branch Road (Upper Gauley);

2. From Mason's Branch Road to the confluence of Bucklick Creek (Lower Gauley);

3. From the confluence of Bucklick Creek to the railroad bridge at Jodie, WV (Lower Gauley).

New River Whitewater Zones

The New River has been designated a "whitewater zone" by the WV Whitewater Commission from its confluence with the Greenbrier River at Hinton, WV, to its confluence with the Gauley River at Gauley Bridge, WV. This zone is further subdivided into six shorter segments:

1. From the confluence with the Greenbrier River to the State Route 41 bridge at Prince (Upper New);

2. From the State Route 41 bridge at Prince to the railroad trestle at Dunloup Creek at Thurmond (Upper New));

3. From the railroad trestle at Dunloup Creek at Thurmond to the confluence of Manns Creek at Cunard (Upper New);

4. From the confluence of Manns Creek at Cunard to Teays Landing at Fayetteville (Lower New);

5. From the Teays Landing at Fayetteville to Hawks Nest State Park dam;

6. From the Hawks Nest State Park dam to the confluence with the Gauley River at Gauley Bridge.

Cheat River Whitewater Zones

Two segments of the Cheat River were designated as whitewater study zones by the WV Whitewater Commission.

1. From the Saltlick Creek confluence at Rowlesburg to the Rt. 26 Bridge at Albright (The Narrows);

2. Form Albright to the confluence of Big Sandy Creek at the Jenkinsburg Bridge (The Canyon Section).

Shenandoah River Whitewater Zones

One segment of the Shenandoah River has been designated as a whitewater study zone by the WV Whitewater Commission.

1. From the Potomac Edison Power Station Dam at Millville to the confluence with the Potomac River at Harper's Ferry.

Tygart Valley River Whitewater Zones

The Tygart River has been designated a "whitewater zone" by the WV Whitewater Commission from its confluence with Mill Creek at Belington, WV, to the County Route 62 Bridge at Colfax, WV. This zone further has been subdivided into three shorter segments:

1. From the confluence with Mill Creek at Belington, WV, to the covered bridge at Philippi, WV;

2. From the covered bridge at Philippi to the Tygart Lake Dam;

3. From the Tygart Lake Dam to the County Route 62 Bridge;


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SUMMARY OF FINDINGS

Below is a summary of findings from the inventory of social and resource conditions on the Gauley, New, Cheat, Shenandoah, and Tygart Valley rivers. Findings for each river are grouped into several categories including River Use, River Crowding and Congestion, User Conflicts, River Safety, Boater Satisfaction, River Trip Experiences, Perceptions of River Resource and Facility Problems, and Management Actions.

Findings from the Gauley River

River Use


Commercial use of the Gauley River in 1995 was 65,438 customers, an increase of about 10% compared to 1994, and about 8% more than 1996. About 66% of commercial use took place on the Upper Gauley (43,082 customers), with the remaining 34% on the Lower Gauley (22,356 customers)






* Most commercial activity on both sections of the river took place during September and October during the fall draw down of Summersville Lake: 97% on the Upper Gauley and 88% on the Lower Gauley
* Seventy-four percent of commercial rafting on the Upper Gauley occurred on Saturdays and Sundays. On the Lower Gauley, 80% occurred on weekends.
* In 1995, the maximum daily commercial use on the Upper and Lower Gauley occurred on Saturday, September 16, when 2,863 and 1,798 commercial customers, respectively, ran these river segments. On the Upper Gauley, this represented about 94% of the daily maximum allocation of 3,040 commercial users per day.
 

River Crowding and Congestion

* The overall average crowding score among commercial boaters on the Upper Gauley River was 4.5 on a 9-point crowding scale, with average daily crowding scores ranging from 2.4 to 5.4.
* About 79% of commercial boaters on the Upper Gauley reported being at least slightly crowded during their river trip, which corresponds to an overall more than capacity social carrying capacity judgement and indicates that intensive management may be necessary to preserve the current experience. On a daily basis, social carrying capacity judgements ranged from low normal to much more than capacity.
* The overall average crowding score among commercial boaters on the Lower Gauley was 4.7 on a 9-point crowding scale, with average daily crowding scores ranging from 1.2 to 5.5.
* About 74% of Lower Gauley boaters reported being at least slightly crowded during their river trip, which like on the Upper Gauley corresponds to an overall more than capacity social carrying capacity judgement. On a daily basis, social carrying capacity judgements ranged from suppressed crowding to much more than capacity.
* Crowding was significantly higher on Saturdays and Sundays that on Fridays and Mondays. On the Upper Gauley, there was a 30% probability of being moderately crowded and a 20% probability of being highly crowded when running the river on a Saturday or Sunday. On Saturdays and Sundays on the Lower Gauley, the probability of being moderately crowded was 37%, and the probability of being highly crowded was 29%.
* Factors contributing to crowding on both the Upper and Lower Gauley were time spent within sight of other trips, queue times above rapids, queue times at the put-in, and river use levels.
* Customers on the Upper Gauley reported average queue times of 5 to 15 minutes at the put-in and less than 5 minutes above any rapids. Lower Gauley customers reported average queue times of less than 5 minutes both at the put-in and above any rapids. Ninety-three percent of Upper and Lower Gauley customers indicated put-in queues were acceptable, while 88% of Upper Gauley customers and 85% of Lower Gauley customers indicated that queue times above rapids were acceptable.
* Customers on both river segments reported that they spent an average of 51 to 75% of their time on the river within sight of other trips. However, almost 60% reported that they spent more than 75% of their time on the river within sight of other trips, while almost 35% reported spending 100% of their time within sight of other trips. Overall, 28% of Upper Gauley customers and 36% of Lower Gauley customers said these conditions were unacceptable.
* Customers were more likely to rate the amount of time spent in sight of other trips as unacceptable on Saturdays and Sundays. On these days, there was a 29% probability on the Upper Gauley and 45% probability on the Lower Gauley of reporting the amount time in sight of other trips unacceptable.
* On the Upper Gauley, about 31% of boaters reported that the number of other people they saw putting-on the river was too many, 25% reported they saw too many other boaters at their lunch site, 34% reported they saw too many others while traveling on the river, and 10% reported they saw too many other boaters at the take-out.
* On the Lower Gauley, 17% reported that the number of other people they saw putting-on the river was too many, 30% reported they saw too many other boaters at their lunch site, 50% reported they saw too many others while traveling on the river, and 13% reported they saw too many other boaters at the take-out.
 

User Conflicts

* Approximately 19% of boaters surveyed on the Upper Gauley and 24% on the Lower Gauley reported experiencing or observing user conflicts of some kind. Most reported conflicts were associated with crowding or congestion (e.g., boat-to-boat contact, too many kayakers, etc.). The remaining conflicts were related to the behavior of others (e.g., trips jumping line, rudeness, poor river etiquette, etc.)
 

River Safety

* From 1990 through 1995, a total of 244 whitewater injuries were reported on the Gauley River, accounting for 45% of all reported whitewater injuries for the period on all five study rivers. Annual injury rates ranged from 20 injuries in 1995 to 64 in 1992, however, injury reporting requirements changed in 1994 making annual comparisons of injury rates dubitable.
* Most injuries on the Gauley were cuts or open wounds (28%), sprains (26%), contusions/bruises (16%), and fractures (16%), dislocation (4%), breathing/water intake (2%), and broken teeth (1%). One death was reported during the six-year period.
* Most injuries reported to DNR occurred at Sweets Falls (25%), Insignificant (11%), Pillow Rock (11%), Woods Ferry (5%), Pure Screaming Hell (5%), Iron Ring (4%) and Mash (4%). The remaining 38% of injuries were distributed over several other sites, or occurred at unknown locations.
* Review of the injury reports for all study rivers suggests that the definition of a "reportable injury" may be inconsistently interpreted, and clarification and reiteration of reporting requirements may be needed to ensure consistent reporting.
* Boaters generally rated conditions on the river as safe. However, there was less agreement about safety relative to the number of boats on the river and the danger of running rapids because of the number of other boats trying to get through.
* About 16% of surveyed boaters identified safety hazards in three categories: inherent whitewater hazards (e.g., big rocks, rapids, etc.); environmental safety hazards (e.g., scrap metal, litter and debris, etc.), and crowding/behavioral safety hazards (e.g., boats too close, boat-to-boat contact, etc.)
* In terms of river incidents, an average of 8.3 commercial swims and 2.2 raft incidents (flips, pins, or dumps) were observed at Lost Paddle per 1,000 customers, while 47.7 swims and 4.1 raft incidents were observed at Sweets Falls per 1,000 customers.
 

Boater Satisfaction

* Commercial boaters reported very high levels of satisfaction with their river trips. About 99% of Upper Gauley boaters and 95% of Lower Gauley boaters rated their trip as very good, excellent, or perfect.
* Factors positively correlated with customer satisfaction on the Upper Gauley were being pleased with the job being done by outfitters, guide professionalism/competence, favorable comparisons to previous rafting trips, rafting equipment quality and condition, safety instructions provided by outfitters, and favorable weather conditions.
* Factors negatively correlated with customer satisfaction on the Upper Gauley were crowding perceptions, queue times above rapids, percent of time in sight of other trips, trip pace, dangerous rapids because of the number of other boats, being uncomfortable with how close other boats came, perception of an unsafe number of boats on the river, previous rafting experience, and customers' ratings of trips as more social and/or high density.
* Factors positively correlated with customer satisfaction on the Lower Gauley were favorable comparisons to previous rafting trips, being pleased with the job being done by outfitters, and safety instructions provided by outfitters.
* Factors negatively correlated with customer satisfaction on the Lower Gauley were crowding perceptions, queue times above rapids, percent of time in sight of other trips, river use levels, dangerous rapids because of the number of other boats, and customer ratings of trips as more social and/or high density.
 

River Trip Experiences

* Overall, the river trips that customers received appeared to be relatively close to what they expected. However, they said they would have preferred more low density, natural river conditions than what they expected or received.
* On the Upper Gauley, about 23% of customers expected a remote wilderness trip, 31% expected a low density - natural river trip, 21% expected a scenic river trip, and 20% expected a social river trip. About 5% expected a developed or high density - developed river trip.
* About 19% of Upper Gauley customers received a remote wilderness trip, 25% received a low density - natural river trip, 19% received a scenic river trip, 28% received a social river trip, and 9% received a developed or high density - developed river trip.
* About 42% of Upper Gauley customers preferred a remote wilderness trip, 32% preferred a low density - natural river trip, 13% preferred a scenic river trip, and 9% preferred a social river trip. Less than 4% preferred a developed or high density - developed river trip.
* On the Lower Gauley, about 24% of customers expected a remote wilderness trip, 34% expected a low density - natural river trip, 24% expected a scenic river trip, and 16% expected a social river trip. No Lower Gauley customers expected a developed or high density - developed river trip.
* About 13% of Lower Gauley customers received a remote wilderness trip, 25% received a low density - natural river trip, 23% received a scenic river trip, 32% received a social river trip, and 6% received a developed or high density - developed river trip.
* About 47% of Lower Gauley customers preferred a remote wilderness trip, 34% preferred a low density - natural river trip, 14% preferred a scenic river trip, and 6% preferred a social river trip. No Lower Gauley customers preferred a developed or high density - developed river trip.
 

Perceptions of River Resource and Facility Problems

* Boaters reported few resource impact problems, but when asked to identify environmental impacts observed on the river, they reported litter and debris along the river and access points, trampled vegetation, soil erosion, graffiti, and campsites.
* Boaters rated the availability of bathroom facilities as the most serious river resource or facility problem, with 16% of Upper Gauley boaters and 8% of Lower Gauley boaters reporting this as a serious or very serious problem.
 

Management Actions

* Commercial boaters generally supported management actions to regulate the flow of river traffic or control the spacing among river trips. Specifically, boaters more strongly favored a scheduling system to increase spacing among river trips, and decreasing the number of rafts allowed on the river at one time.
* Boaters generally opposed actions to lower use levels or restrict river access. Customers opposed allowing more commercial users on the river, but at the same time opposed reducing the number of commercial users if it resulted in higher outfitter fees or denied them access to the river. However, boaters on the Lower Gauley indicated they were somewhat supportive of the prospect of being denied access to the river to reduce river use levels.
 

Key Findings from the New River

River Use

* Commercial use of the New River in 1995 was 160,142 customers, an increase of about 25% compared to 1994. About 87% of commercial use took place on the Lower New, with the remaining 13% on the Upper New.
* Most commercial activity on both sections of the river took place during July and August: 55% on the Lower New and 68% on the Upper New.
* Fifty-seven percent of commercial rafting in the Lower New occurred on Saturdays and Sundays. On the Upper New, only 35% occurred on weekends.
* In 1995, the maximum daily commercial use occurred on Saturday, July 29, with 3508 commercial customers. This was about 90% of the daily maximum allocation of 3,875 commercial users per day.
 

River Crowding and Congestion

* The overall average crowding score among commercial boaters on the Lower New River was 3.7 on a 9-point crowding scale, with average daily crowding scores ranging from 2.0 to 5.9.
* About 62% of commercial boaters reported being at least slightly crowded during their river trip, which corresponds to an overall high normal social carrying capacity judgement and indicates potential capacity problems if use continues to increase. On a daily basis, social carrying capacity judgements ranged from suppressed crowding to much more than capacity.
* The day of the week (weekend vs weekday) and river flow levels significantly affected river crowding. There was a 34% probability of being moderately crowded and a 25% probability of being extremely crowded while running the river on a weekend when river flows were 1.0 foot or less (Fayette Station gauge).
* Factors contributing to river crowding were, in decreasing magnitude of correlations, queue times above rapids, time spent within sight of other trips, river use levels, river flow levels, and queue times at the put-in.
* Customers reported average queue times of 5 to 15 minutes at the put-in and above any rapids. Most customers (>90%) indicated that queue times were acceptable.
* Customers reported that they spent an average of 51 to 75% of their time on the river within sight of other trips. However, about 43% of boaters reported that they spent more than 75% of their time on the river within sight of other trips. Overall, 20% said these conditions were unacceptable.
* Customers were more likely rate the amount of time spent in sight of other trip as unacceptable on weekends, especially at low flows. On weekends, there was a 44% probability of an unacceptable amount time in sight of others when flows were 1.0 foot or less, a 26% probability at flows from 1.1 to 3.5 feet, and a 14% probability at flows greater than 3.5 feet.
* About 16% of boaters reported that the number of other boaters they saw at the put-in was too many, 11% reported they saw too many other boaters at their lunch site, 27% reported they saw too many others while traveling on the river, and 14% reported they saw too many other boaters at the take-out.
 

User Conflicts

* About 10% of customers reported experiencing or observing conflicts among river users. Of the 50 reports of user conflicts, 35 were associated with crowding or congestion (e.g., too many kayakers, boat-to-boat contact, etc.), and 15 were related to the behavior of others (e.g., trips jumping line, water fights, spraying, etc.)
 

River Safety

* From 1990 through 1995, a total of 263 whitewater injuries were reported on the New River, which amounted to 49% of all reported whitewater injuries for all rivers. The annual rate of injuries ranged from 28 injuries in 1995 to 62 in 1993, however, injury reporting requirements changed in 1994 making annual comparisons of injury rates dubitable.
* The most frequently reported types of injuries on the New River were cuts or open wounds (29%), sprains (24%), contusions/bruises (19%), and fractures (12%), dislocation (6%), broken teeth (3%), breathing/water intake (2%). Two deaths were reported during the six-year period.
* Seventeen percent of all injuries reported on the New occurred at Surprise rapid, followed by the Railroad and the Keeney sets of rapids each with 11% of injuries, Double Z (10%), Bus Stop (7%), and Millers Folly (7%). The remaining 37% of injuries were distributed over several other sites, or occurred at unknown locations.
* Boaters generally rated conditions on the river as safe. However, there was less agreement about safety relative to the number of boats on the river and the danger of running rapids because of the number of other boats trying to get through.
* About 9% of surveyed boaters identified safety hazards in four categories: inherent whitewater hazards (e.g., big rocks, rapids, etc.); environmental safety hazards (e.g., scrap metal, glass, litter and debris, etc.); behavioral safety hazards (e.g., water fights, boater without helmets, etc.); and crowding safety hazards (e.g., boats too close, boat-to-boat contact, etc.)
* In terms of river incidents, an average of 8.52 commercial swims and 0.87 raft incidents (flips, pins, or dumps) were observed at Railroad rapid per 1,000 customers, while 10.45 swims and 2.82 raft incidents were observed at Double Z rapid per 1,000 customers.
* River incidents (swims and raft incidents) were highly dependent on river flow levels. Both increased slightly with flows less than 1.0 foot, and increased dramatically with flows greater than 3.75 feet.
 

Boater Satisfaction

* Commercial boaters reported very high levels of satisfaction with their river trips. About 94% rated their trip as very good, excellent, or perfect.
* Factors positively correlated with satisfaction were favorable comparisons to previous rafting trips, high river discharge levels, rafting equipment quality and condition, guide professionalism/competence, outfitter safety instructions, and favorable weather conditions.
* Factors negatively correlated with satisfaction were perceived crowding, queue times, percent of time in sight of other trips, number of other boaters on the river, daily temperatures, trip pace, dangerous rapids because of the number of other boats, being uncomfortable with how close other boats came, and previous rafting experience.
 

River Trip Experiences

* Overall, the river trips that customers received appeared to be relatively close to what they expected. However, they said they would have preferred more low density, natural river conditions than what they expected or received.
* About 21% of customers expected a remote wilderness trip, 34% expected a low density - natural river trip, 24% expected a scenic river trip, and 17% expected a social river trip. Less than 4% expected a developed or high density - developed river trip.
* About 16% of customers received a remote wilderness trip, 29% received a low density - natural river trip, 22% received a scenic river trip, 27% received a social river trip, and 7% received a developed or high density - developed river trip.
* About 37% of customers preferred a remote wilderness trip, 34% preferred a low density - natural river trip, 14% preferred a scenic river trip, and 11% preferred a social river trip. Less than 5% preferred a developed or high density - developed river trip.
 

Perceptions of River Resource and Facility Problems

* Boaters reported few resource impact problems, but when asked to identify environmental impacts observed on the river, they reported litter and debris along the river and access points, trampled vegetation, soil erosion, graffiti, bad odors, and sewage.
* Boaters rated the availability of bathroom facilities as the most serious river resource or facility problem, but only 7% reported this as a serious or very serious problem. Litter and polluted water were rated as the next most seriously problems.
 

Management Actions

* Commercial boaters generally supported management actions to regulate the flow of river traffic or control the spacing among river trips. Specifically, boaters more strongly favored a scheduling system to increase spacing among river trips, which was followed by decreasing the number of rafts allowed on the river at one time.
* Boaters generally opposed actions that restrict use levels or river access. Customers opposed allowing more commercial users on the river, but at the same time opposed reducing the number of commercial users if it resulted in higher outfitter fees or restricted access to the river.

Key Findings from the Cheat River

River Use

* Overall commercial use has declined about 40% since 1990 from about 20,000 customers annually to about 13,000 customers annually in 1994 and 1995.
* In 1994 and 1995, over 70% of commercial use of the Cheat River occurred in the Canyon section, with the remainder on the Narrows.
* In 1995, over 80% of commercial rafting in the Canyon occurred on Saturdays (50%) and Sundays (32%). On the Narrows, only 49% occurs on weekends.
* In 1995, the maximum daily commercial use occurred on Saturday, April 29, with 793 customers. This level of commercial use was only 42% of the daily maximum allocation of 1,856 user days.
 

River Crowding and Congestion

* Crowding among commercial users appears to be relatively low. Overall, average crowding scores were 3.1 on a 9-point scale, and 54% of commercial boaters reported feeling crowded during the river trip, most of whom felt only slightly crowded. In 1991, average crowding was 4.1 and 64% of boaters reported feeling crowded.
* The flow of commercial and noncommercial river traffic appears relatively consistent from low to high use days. Flow levels in the range observed during the sampling period (2.0 to 3.5 feet) appeared to have little effect on traffic flow.
* Commercial customers reported average queue times of 5 to 15 minutes at the put-in and above rapids, and an average of 26 to 50% of their time on the river within sight of other trips. About 90% of customers said these conditions were acceptable.
 

River Safety

* From 1990 through 1995, only 22 whitewater injuries were reported in the Cheat Canyon. The number of reported injuries has fallen each year from 9 in 1990 to 1 each in 1993, 1994, and 1995, however, injury reporting requirements changed in 1994 making annual comparisons of injury rates dubitable.
* The types of injuries, in decreasing order of frequency, were open wounds (4), contusions/bruises (3), unknown (3), sprains (3), broken teeth (2), fractures (2), breathing/water intake (2), and dislocation (1). Two deaths were reported.
* The majority (9) of injuries occurred at Coliseum, followed by 4 at Big Nasty, 3 each at High Falls and on shore, 1 at Decision, 1 at Teardrop, and 4 at unspecified locations.
* River incidents in the form of customer swims and raft incidents (flips/pins/dumps) appear to increase substantially with water flow levels. Occurrences of these incidents rose from 47 swims and 6 raft incidents per 1000 customers to 152 swims and 28 raft incidents per 1000 customers with a 1.5 feet rise in water flows.
 

Boater Satisfaction

* Commercial boaters reported very high levels of satisfaction with their river trip. 64% rated their trip perfect or excellent.
* The river trips that customers received appear to be relatively close to what they expected. However, they said they would have preferred much more low density, natural river conditions than what they expected or received.
 

Perceptions of River Resource and Facility Problems

* Commercial boaters rated water quality as the most prominent resource impact on the river, with 37% indicating water pollution was at least a moderate environmental problem. Twenty-five percent said water pollution was a serious or very serious problem.
 

Management Actions

* Commercial boaters generally supported management actions to regulate the flow of river traffic or control the spacing among river trips, and generally opposed actions that restricted use levels or river access.
 

Key Findings from the Shenandoah River

River Use

* Overall commercial use has increased annually since 1994, the first year that reliable commercial use data were available. In 1994, total commercial use was 15,911 users days, which increased to 18,194 in 1995 and 19,219 in 1996
* In 1996, about 59% of commercial rafting in the Shenandoah occurred on Saturdays (34%) and Sundays (25%)
* In 1996, about 80% of total use occurred in June (23%), July (30%), and August (27%)
* In 1996, the maximum daily commercial use occurred on Saturday, July 27th, with 480 customers
 

River Crowding and Congestion

* Crowding among commercial users appears to be relatively low. Overall, average crowding scores were 2.6 on a 9-point scale, and 49% of commercial boaters reported feeling crowded during the river trip. This corresponded to a low-normal social carrying capacity judgement for the Shenandoah River, suggesting the river has not yet reached its capacity in terms boater crowding and congestion
* Commercial boaters reported that the presence of other rafts on the river contributed more to their perceptions of crowding than kayakers (rigid and inflatable duckys), tubers, or canoeists
* Commercial customers reported average queue times of approximately 5 minutes at the put-in and above rapids, and an average of approximately 25% of their time on the river within sight of other trips. Over 90% of customers said these conditions were acceptable
 

River Safety

* From 1990 through 1995, only eight whitewater injuries were reported on the Shenandoah River. No injuries were reported in 1990, 1991, and 1994; one was reported in 1992; three in 1993, and four in 1995. Five injuries were open wounds, one was a contusion/bruise, one was a sprain, and one was listed as unspecified pain.
* No injuries were reported in 1990, 1991, or 1994. Most injuries (4) were reported in 1995, with three in 1993 and one in 1992. The change in the injury reporting requirements in 1994 appears to have resulted in a reduction in the number of reported injuries on other study rivers, while on the Shenandoah the effect was unclear in that the highest annual injury rate was reported in 1995.
 

Boater Satisfaction

* Commercial boaters reported very high levels of satisfaction with their river trip. 58% rated their trip perfect or excellent.
* The river trips that customers received appear to be relatively close to what they expected. However, they said they would have preferred much more low density, natural river conditions than what they expected or received.
 

Perceptions of River Resource and Facility Problems

* Commercial boaters rated erosion, litter, and trampled vegetation as the most prominent resource impacts on the river, however, most rated these as only slight problems. The availability of bathroom facilities a slight problem
 

Key Findings from the Tygart River

River Use

* Overall commercial use has decreased annually since 1994, the first year that reliable commercial use data were available. In 1994, total commercial use was 435 users days, which decreased to 370 in 1995 and 233 in 1996
* Commercial rafting on the Arden section of the Tygart is primarily a spring activity and accounts for more than 80% of all commercial use. On the Valley Falls section, most use occurs in mid-summer
 

River Crowding and Congestion

* Crowding among commercial users appears to be relatively low. Overall, average crowding scores were 1.9 on a 9-point scale, and only 10% of commercial boaters reported feeling crowded during the river trip. This corresponded to a suppressed crowding social carrying capacity judgement for the Tygart River, indicating the river offers unique density paddling opportunities.
* Commercial customers reported less than 10% of their time on the river within sight of other trips. All customers said these conditions were acceptable
 

River Safety

* From 1990 through 1995, no whitewater injuries were reported on the Tygart River.
 

Boater Satisfaction

* Commercial boaters reported very high levels of satisfaction with their river trip. 40% rated their trip perfect or excellent and 60% rated their trip as very good.
 

------------------------------------------------------------------------


A LIMITS OF ACCEPTABLE CHANGE (LAC) RIVER MANAGEMENT FRAMEWORK

Identifying and Defining Opportunity Classes

The Limits of Acceptable Change (LAC) framework used for the commercial whitewater study consists of a series of interrelated steps leading to a set of measurable management objectives and "prescriptions" for achieving those objectives. In the process, the environmental and social conditions desired for the five study rivers were identified. LAC is a conceptual process -- not final policy. It provides a framework for the development of a sound river management policy process and a consistent management direction for the five whitewater study rivers.

Inherent in the LAC process is the identification and definition of opportunity classes that describe conceptually the physical and/or social conditions desired, or potentially available, on each river segment. Opportunity classes describe themes, concepts, and/or management directions within the context of primary resource management issues. Also inherent in LAC is the selection of key variables or indicators that are (1) relevant to resource management issues (2) measurable using valid and reliable methods; (3) sensitive to changes in conditions, and; (4) measurable within constraints of money, labor, and time. Indicator standards (i.e., acceptable maximum or minimum values for each indicator) quantitatively represent resource and/or social conditions characterized in the opportunity class descriptions. Key indicators selected for the definition of opportunity classes on the five study rivers include:

* Average customer crowding scores using a standard 9-point crowding scale (Shelby, et al. 1989)
* Average trip leader crowding scores using a standard 9-point crowding scale (Shelby, et al. 1989)
* Percentage of customers who experienced crowding
* Percentage of trip leaders who experienced crowding
* Percentage of time customers report spending within sight of other river trips
* Percentage of time trip leaders report spending within sight of other river trips
* Percentage of customers reporting that their trip expectations were not met as determined by the River Trip Performance Estimate (RTPE). RTPE is an indicator of river trip quality and was developed to measure the extent to which boater's river trip expectations were met. RTPE was expressed as a negative number -- trip expectations were not met or the trip was not as good as expected; zero -- trip expectations were exactly met; or a positive number -- trip expectations were exceeded.

Opportunity classes for the study rivers were developed on the basis of daily commercial use levels within peak-use seasons on each study river. Peak-use periods for study rivers were defined as follows:

* Cheat Canyon: April 15 through Memorial Day weekend
* New River: Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend
* Gauley River: Fall Release Season (Labor Day to Mid October)
* Shenandoah: Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend
* Tygart River: Not Applicable as Use is Infrequent
 

Each peak-use period was subdivided into four quartiles (25%) on the basis of daily river use. These subdivisions served as the starting point for identifying opportunity classes. For example, on each river the 1st quartile represented days within the peak-use period with the lowest 25% of commercial river use, while the 4th quartile represented days within the highest 25% of use. Indicator scores were examined and compared to identify differences between quartiles, and those with no apparent differences on indicator scores were combined to form new opportunity classes (Table 1). For example, no differences were found for the Lower New on indicator scores in the 2nd and 3rd quartiles. These quartiles were combined to form a new class, and resulted in only three opportunity classes on the Lower New: the lowest 25%, the middle 50%, and the highest 25% of use days. No differences were found between the 2nd, 3rd and 4th river use quartiles on both the Upper and Lower Gauley. Consequently, two opportunity classes are proposed, representing the lowest 25% of use days and the highest 75% of use days. On the Cheat and Shenandoah Rivers, no differences appeared on indicator scores among the four river use quartiles. Opportunity class labels were derived on the basis of use level and the median boater response on the type of river trip the received. The resulting opportunity class labels included Low Use - Natural, Moderate Use - Natural, and High Use - Scenic.




  


Table 1. LAC Opportunity Class Definitions for Each Study River Based on Percentage of Commercial River Use.
Opportunity Classes
River  Indicator Low Use-Natural Moderate Use-Natural High Use-Scenic
Upper New River No opportunity classes are proposed for the Upper New River at the current time. 
Lower NewRiver Use Level Bottom 25% of Days Middle 50% of Days Upper 25% of Days
Received River Trip (Median) Low Density Natural Low Density Natural Scenic
Crowding Score (Mean) Less Than 3 on 9-Point Scale 3 to 4 on 9-Point Scale  Greater Than 4 on 9-Point Scale
Crowded Customers (%) Less Than 50% 50% to 70% Greater than 70%
Time in Sight of Other Trips (%) Less Than 50% 50% to 75% Greater than 75%
Customers with unmet Trip Expectations (%) Less Than 20% 20% to 25% Greater than 25%
Upper GauleyRiver Use Level Bottom 25% of Days N/A Upper 75% of Days
Received River Trip (Median) Low Density Natural N/A Scenic
Crowding Score (Mean) Less Than 3 on 9-Point Scale N/A Greater Than 4 on 9-Point Scale
Crowded Customers (%) Less Than 50% N/A Greater than 70%
Time in Sight of Other Trips (%) Less Than 50% N/A Greater than 75%
Customers with unmet Trip Expectations (%) Less Than 25% N/A Greater than 25%
Lower GauleyRiver Use Level Bottom 25% of Days  N/A Upper 75% of Days
Received River Trip (Median) Low Density Natural N/A Scenic
Crowding Score (Mean) Less Than 3 on 9-Point Scale N/A Greater Than 4 on 9-Point Scale
Crowded Customers (%) Less Than 50% N/A Greater than 70%
Time in Sight of Other Trips (%) Less Than 50% N/A Greater than 75%
Customers with unmet Trip Expectations (%) Less Than 25% N/A Greater than 30%
Cheat Canyon At current use levels on the Cheat Canyon, no distinction appears to exist between low and high use days in terms of selected indicator scores
Cheat Narrows No opportunity classes are proposed for the Cheat Narrows at the current time.
Shenandoah River At current use levels on the Shenandoah, no distinction appears to exist between low and high use days in terms of selected indicator scores
Tygart Valley River No opportunity classes are proposed for the Tygart River.

 
 



Current conditions as represented in the Low Use - Natural and Moderate Use - Natural opportunity classes were deemed acceptable. Consequently, no management actions were developed other than continued monitoring to insure that these classes remain intact. Conversely, conditions represented in the High Use - Scenic opportunity class were of primary management concern. An overlapping management framework was developed to address boating conditions that exist on days in this class. In this framework critical indicator standards, management categories, and examples of corresponding management action alternatives were specified (Table 2).



  


Table 2. LAC Indicator Standards and Management Categories for High Use-Scenic Opportunity Class
Indicators Indicator Standard Management Category Example Management Alternatives
Trip Leader Crowding Scores and Customer Crowding Scores (Average) 6.5 or Greater Mandatory Action Reduce Allocation  

Require Launch Scheduling

5.0 to 6.4 Minor Action Voluntary Launch Scheduling  

Information / Education 

3.5 to 5.0 Acceptable No Action
Less than 3.5 Re-Assess Adjust Over-booking Policy  

Reassign/Redefine Opportunity Class

Proportion of Customers and Trip Leaders Experiencing Crowding (%) 90% or Greater Mandatory Action Reduce Allocation  

Require Launch Scheduling

80% to 89% Minor Action Voluntary Launch Scheduling  

Information / Education 

65% to 79% Acceptable No Action
Less than 65% Re-Assess Adjust Over-booking Policy  

Reassign/Redefine Opportunity Class

Customer and Trip Leader Estimates of Time in Sight of Other Trips (Median) 100% Mandatory Action Reduce Allocation  

Require Launch Scheduling

76% to 99% Minor Action Voluntary Launch Scheduling
51% to 75% Acceptable No Action
50% or Less Re-Assess Adjust Over-booking Policy  

Reassign/Redefine Opportunity Class

Customers with Unmet Trip Expectations (RTPE scores < 0) 35 % or Greater Mandatory Action Reduce Allocation  

Require Launch Scheduling

30 to 34% Minor Action Voluntary Launch Scheduling
20 to 30% Acceptable No Action
Less than 20% Re-Assess Adjust Over-booking Policy  

Reassign/Redefine Opportunity Class



 
 



Management categories identified in the framework include mandatory action, minor action, acceptable, and re-assess. Mandatory actions are intended to remedy the most severe river conditions in terms of the key indicators, and include such regulatory responses as reducing the maximum allocated river capacities or implementing a required trip launching schedule. These actions should be interpreted as strict regulatory responses to undesirable or problematic river conditions such as high levels of crowding or congestion and poor trip quality. Minor actions include such management responses as implementing outfitter and visitor education/information programs, voluntary trip launching schedule, or other "light handed" management responses. The acceptable management category requires no management response as it represents conditions desired for the opportunity class. Finally, when the re-assess management category is indicated, river conditions are well below the critical standards for the opportunity class. Such actions as relaxing the current over-booking policy may be appropriate, as well as potentially redefining the opportunity class.

Critical indicator standards in this framework serve as triggers for management response to river conditions. However, it is unlikely that all critical indicator standards will be violated or exceeded simultaneously. For example, the likelihood that all indicators indicate mandatory action (i.e., that average customer and trip leader crowding scores exceed 6.5, that 90% of them experience crowding, that they spend 100% of their time on the river, and that 35% of customers have unmet trip expectations) will occur simultaneously is probably low. To illustrate this point, the framework was applied to data collected from commercial customers on the Lower New, Upper and Lower Gauley, the Cheat Canyon, and Shenandoah Rivers (Table 3). Indicator scores for all applicable opportunity classes are reported, however, the management category designations are applicable only to the High Use - Scenic class. On the Lower New and Upper Gauley, two of the four indicators reported in Table 3 indicate acceptable conditions while two indicate that some minor actions are necessary. On the Lower Gauley, three of four suggest minor actions while one, the percent of customers with unmet trip expectations, indicate mandatory actions. On the Cheat Canyon and Shenandoah River, indicators suggest that acceptable conditions exist or the opportunity class perhaps should be redefined. Overall, these assessments appear to yield ambiguous results. However, it was believed that when a preponderance of critical indicators exceeded the specified standards, the need for management response would be evident and that the Whitewater Commission and DNR, as the primary regulatory authorities, would jointly develop and implement an appropriate river management response.
 



  


Table 3. Application of the LAC Management Framework to LAC Opportunity Classes on the New, Gauley, Cheat, and Shenandoah Rivers. 
Indicator Opportunity Class Management Category
Low Use-Natural Moderate Use-Natural High Use-Scenic
Lower New River
Average Crowding 2.3 3.2 4.2 Acceptable
% Crowded 33 58 72 Acceptable
Median % in Sight 11 to 25% 26 to 50% 75 to 99% Minor Action
RTPE < 0 16 25 32 Minor Action
Upper Gauley River
Average Crowding 2.5 N/A 4.7 Acceptable
% Crowded 42 N/A 84 Minor Action
Median % in Sight 26 to 50% N/A 75 to 99% Minor Action
RTPE < 0 21 N/A 28 Acceptable
Lower Gauley River
Average Crowding 2.8 N/A 5.3 Minor Action
% Crowded (3) 29 N/A 89 Minor Action
Median % in Sight 26 to 50% N/A 75 to 99% Minor Action
RTPE < 0 24 N/A 39 Mandatory Action
Cheat Canyon
Average Crowding 3.3 N/A 3.2 Re-Assess
% Crowded  66 N/A 66 Acceptable
Median % in Sight < 10%  N/A 11 to 25% Re-Assess
RTPE < 0 15 N/A 21 Acceptable
Shenandoah River
Average Crowding 2.1 N/A 2.8 Re-Assess
% Crowded  31 N/A 48 Re-Assess
Median % in Sight < 10% N/A 11 to 25% Re-Assess
RTPE < 0 24 N/A 19 Re-Assess


 



Future Monitoring and Evaluation

The final step of the LAC process provides for the implementation of the river management framework and any management actions deemed necessary to achieve desired river conditions, and establishing a monitoring plan to chart the progress toward achieving those conditions. This involves periodically re-inventorying critical LAC indicators and characterizing differences between actual river conditions and indicator standards specified for each opportunity class. Seven key indicators were identified in the LAC river management framework and will require future monitoring. As well, since opportunity classes have been defined on the basis of river use, it will be necessary to monitor indefinitely commercial use of all whitewater zones (see A Plan for Whitewater Data Management). The opportunity classes defined above and associated indicator standards are based on data collected during a single season on each river. Adjustment of opportunity classes and indicator standards may be appropriate if indicated by future monitoring of river conditions.
 


------------------------------------------------------------------------

AN ALLOCATION METHODOLOGY FOR COMMERCIAL RAFTING IN WEST VIRGINIA

NOTE:  Legislation passed by the WV Legislature during the 1999 regular session nullified the allocation methodology adopted by the Whitewater Commission as described below.  The current statute describing allocations for the commercial whitewater industry can be viewed via this link.

Introduction

The formulation and implementation of an allocation methodology for designated whitewater zones in West Virginia was mandated in 1992 as specified in §20.2-23a of the West Virginia State Code. In accordance with this section of code, the Whitewater Commission was directed to ... formulate a rational criteria for an allocation methodology including, but not limited to, a minimum [basal] allocation for each river studied; and ... meet (annually) for the purpose of considering and adjusting allocations... Embodied in this mandate are two primary tasks: (1) specification of carrying capacities for each whitewater zone; and (2) formulation of a methodology for distributing these capacities among licensed outfitters. The Commission also was directed to implement the allocation methodology no later than July 1, 1995, but was granted an extension by the West Virginia Legislature to December 31, 1997. The current number of commercial whitewater licenses include 5 each on the Tygart Valley and Shenandoah Rivers, 13 on the Cheat River, 24 on the New River, and 25 on the Gauley River. Thirty licensed outfitters hold these licenses and have operated under an arbitrary set of temporary allocations defined in the 1992 legislation (Table 4).
 
 



  


Table 4. Licensed Commercial Whitewater Outfitters and Associated Allocations (Number indicates daily allocation where applicable; * indicates no allocation for outfitters licensed on these rivers; -- indicates outfitter is not licensed on the river)
Outfitter Lic. No. New Gauley Cheat Shenandoah Tygart
ACE  
Ace Whitewater  
New River Rafting 19
31 150
150 120
-- --
-- --
-- --
--
Adventures dba Rivers 34 150 120 60 -- --
Rivers II 28 150 120 -- -- --
Extreme Expeditions 24 150 120 -- -- --
Alpine Bible Camp 13 150 -- -- -- --
Cantrell / Ultimate  23 150 -- -- -- --
CLASS VI  
CVI River Runners  
CVI Ltd 18
7 176
150 146
120 --
-- -- 
-- --
--
Drift-A-Bit 38 150 120 -- -- --
Mountain River Tours 4 268 195 -- -- --
Mountain Streams and Trails 6 -- 80 285 -- *
New River Scenic 5 150 120 -- -- --
New and Gauley River Adventures 16 150 120 -- -- --
NORTH AMERICAN  
North American River Runners  
North American River Rafters  
WV River Adventures 3
12
17 188
--
150 120
70
120 60
--
-- --
--
-- --
--
--
Passages to Adventure 33 150 100 60 -- --
Precision Rafting 35 -- 120 60 -- --
Songer Whitewater 10 150 160 -- -- --
The Rivermen 36 150 140 -- -- --
USA  
American Whitewater Tours  
Rough Run  
Expeditions  
(From Mtn State Outdoor Ctr) 11 150
--
--
(120) 120
--
120
-- 60  
60  
60  
-- --
--
--
-- -- 
-- 
-- 
--
Appalachian Wildwaters  
(From Mtn State Outdoor Ctr) 15 243
(30) 229
-- 283
-- --
-- *
WV Whitewater 37 150 120 -- -- --
Whitewater Information 25 150 120 -- -- --
Wildwater Expeditions 1 150 120 -- -- --
Cheat River Outfitters  2 -- -- 178 * --
Laurel Highlands 32 -- -- 199 --
Cheat Whitewater World 22 -- -- 128 -- --
Whitewater Adventurers - Cheat 8 -- -- 170 -- *
Blackwater Outdoor Center 9 -- -- 60 -- --
Youghiogheny Outfitters 27 -- -- 133 -- --
River and Trails 21 -- -- -- * --
River Riders 29 -- -- -- * --
Blue Ridge Outfitter 14 -- -- -- * --
Current River Capacity 3875 3040 1856 n/a n/a


 



  A committee, hereafter referred to as the LAC committee, was appointed by the Whitewater Commission to evaluate study findings and develop a proposal for an allocation methodology to satisfy the legislative mandate. The LAC committee was comprised of three commercial outfitters, one whitewater guide, and one private boater. Representatives from the West Virginia DNR also participated. Investigators from West Virginia University facilitated the work of the LAC committee by providing reference information on resource allocation, as well as data analysis and interpretation.

The allocation methodology proposal developed by the LAC committee was presented to the Whitewater Commission on September 17, 1997. After a six-week public comment period during which written comments and alternative proposals were received, a revised methodology was developed and presented to the Commission on November 12, 1997. The revised methodology addressed many issues and concerns raised during the public comment period. The final approval of the methodology was deferred until the Whitewater Commission meeting on December 17, 1997.

For the purpose of formulating an allocation methodology and specifying river capacities, it was necessary to define a "unit" of river use. To this end, the concept of user days was adopted and defined as follows for application on designated whitewater zones in West Virginia:

A user day refers to a paying and/or nonpaying guest of a licensed commercial outfitter, excluding guides and guide trainees, who is a passenger on a commercially outfitted trip on a single section of river designated as a whitewater zone by the West Virginia Whitewater Commission for all or part of one calendar day. Userdays are additive, meaning that ...

... a single guest who paddles a single section of a whitewater zone multiple times on a calendar day accounts for as many user days as time running that section. EXAMPLE: an individual on a double Upper Gauley trip accounts for a total of two user days;

... a single guest who paddles multiple whitewater zones on one or multiple days accounts for as many user days as whitewater zones paddled. EXAMPLE: an individual person on a marathon Gauley trip (Upper and Lower) accounts for a total of two user days -- one on each section; or an individual on an overnight trip on the Upper New on the first day and Lower New on the second day accounts for a total of two user days -- one on each section.

Below is a general overview of resource allocation is presented, as well as design principles identified and used by the LAC committee to develop an allocation methodology. The original and revised allocation methodology proposed by the LAC committee is also summarized, as is the final allocation methodology approved and adopted by the West Virginia Whitewater Commission.


------------------------------------------------------------------------

Background on Resource Allocation

The primary goal of resource allocation is to achieve some form of "distributive justice" (Shelby, Whittaker, and Danley, 1986). Under ideal conditions, this means that individuals obtain a portion of a limited resource based on some criteria of fairness. However, fairness is subjective and varies widely from individual to individual - what seems fair to one person or group may not to another. Consequently, distributive justice has been defined in terms of several conceptual goals (Shelby, Whittaker, and Danley, 1986):

Equality: All individuals have the same rights to certain benefits derived from the resource. Equality is achieved by providing either equal shares of or equal chances to obtain the resource. Example: subdividing an estate equally among heirs.

Equity: The resource is allocated among individuals in proportion to their individual contributions or investments (e.g., time, effort, and/or money) toward the resource. Simply put, those who put more in ought to get more out. Example: higher fees for hunting licenses for nonresidents - contributions from residents for maintaining game are made in the form of taxes.

Need: Allocation by need recognizes that individuals or groups may have requisites which are indispensable for normal functioning. Example: handicapped individuals are provided specialized access to public facilities because of their particular needs.

Efficiency: Allocation of the resource so that it is put to its most highly valued use. Example: some individuals may place a high value on river running, while others may enjoy the activity but would be just as happy mountain biking. Efficiency requires that priority be given to those for whom river running is most important.

The challenge for resource managers when faced with the task of designing and implementing an allocation system is to ensure it achieves the right mix of these conceptual distributive goals. The determination of which are most appropriate for a given resource depends on the magnitude and severity of use impacts, the legal guidelines and mandate of the managing agency, and the concerns of the affected interest groups (Shelby and Danley, 1980; Shelby and Heberlein, 1986). In the case of whitewater river resources, affected interest groups generally are comprised of two sectors: commercial and private users. While these groups generally have a common interest in river conservation, they sometimes have conflicting views about appropriate levels of river use and fairness of river allocation systems.

Generally, the allocation of river use opportunities is comprised of two main issues: allotment and rationing (Utter, Gleason, and McCool, 1981). Once deciding that allocation is an appropriate management option, it must be determined by what means to apportion (i.e., allot) use opportunities among user groups, and then how individual use opportunities are to be distributed (i.e., rationed) among members within each group. The West Virginia Whitewater Commission is authorized to regulate only the commercial whitewater industry. Private river use, which makes up a relatively small percentage of total river use on all study rivers, presently is unregulated with regard to river access or use levels. Consequently, private users were not included in the design of the allocation methodology. On the other hand, the problem of allocating river use among multiple licensed outfitters was considered equivalent to the allotment of use among different user groups. In formulating an allocation methodology in West Virginia, outfitters were treated as distinct user groups, thus the basic objective was one of allotment (i.e., developing a system to apportion available river use capacities among licensed outfitters). Common allotment techniques include test river, historical use patterns, even-split, even-pool, percentage of disappointment, and equal treatment approaches (Table 5).



  


Table 5. Common Resource Allotment Techniques. 
Allotment Technique Description
Test River One river is selected as a test river with no limit on the number of trips or individuals allowed to run it. Naturally occurring percentages of total use that each user group represents (i.e., commercial, private, etc.) on the test river then are used to allocate use opportunities among predominant groups on all rivers.
Historical Use (Market Share) Historical use proportions are used to allocate available use opportunities among predominant groups for future years.
Even-Split (Equality/Parity) Regardless of how use levels developed in the past or on a test river, use is divided equally among user groups (e.g., 50% commercial; 50% private)
Even-Pool Begin each season by allocating use opportunities equally among all user groups using even-split technique (50-50), then reallocate the unused portion of the split possessed by the group with insufficient demand to utilize its allocation.
Percentage of Disappointment Equal percentages of each user group are allowed (or disallowed) access to the river. Percentage of disappointment varies depending on level of demand.  

Example:   

Maximum Allocated Capacity 1000  

Demand for Commercial Trips 1200  

Demand for Private Trips 400  

Percentage of Disappointment 37.5% (62.5% Allowance)  

62.5% of 1200 750  

62.5% of 400 250  

Total daily use allocation 1000

Equal Treatment All commercial and private users first obtain advance permission to access the river on a first come-first served queue. Provisions are then made for the trip (i.e. contact outfitter or organize private trip).


 



Allocation Design Principles

The following principles were established by the LAC committee to aid in the design, development, and implementation of the allocation methodology:


The allocation methodology should resolve ambiguity in the language of and differences in interpretation of current statutes on river allocations. Current laws governing river allocation is not interpreted consistently. Language in the current statute specifies that allocations on the New River are to be a minimum of 150 user days, and on the Gauley are to be a minimum of 120 user days -- without reference to specific river segments. Through mutual agreement, both DNR and the whitewater industry interpret the Gauley allocations as applicable to the Upper section of the River, i.e., from Summersville Dam to approximately Mason Branch. On the New River, the industry interprets the allocations as applicable only to the Lower New, and have developed their business practices and rafting operations according to this interpretation. Conversely, DNR interprets the allocation as applicable to the entire New River;Promote full utilization of river resources within specified carrying capacities so as to maximize local and regional economic impacts of the Whitewater industry;Establish a simple mechanism to allow allocations to adjust to changes in river conditions, boater experiences, and the market place;Preserve the value earned by each license holder as demonstrated by historical use -- it was assumed that historical use demonstrates the willingness to develop and grow a "product" on respective river segments, and conceptually indicates the proportion of the total allocation to which each outfitter is entitled, or has "earned." (i.e., distribute allocations to preserve equity and reward operational efficiency);Distribute allocations to match the physical and operational capacities of license holders;Reward consistency and discourage price discounting and the offering of "special" trips to elevate single day customer numbers to gain market share;Preserve the notion that all individuals have equal rights to use a public river resource (i.e., distribute allocations to preserve equality);Provide an objective mechanism for determining so called "minimum" or basal allocations to be conferred with each license as mandated in §20.2-23a.





------------------------------------------------------------------------

 



LAC Committee Proposal for An Allocation Methodology for Rivers in West Virginia

Several alternative approaches for allocating commercial river use were evaluated, of which most were variants of the allotment techniques described above. A preferred alternative was identified and selected on the basis of its capacity to more completely satisfy the allocation principles described above. The recommended alternative consists of a combination of even split and seasonal market share allotment techniques, and accommodates the distribution of equal portions of half of the maximum allocated capacity of a river or river segment to all valid licenses as well as the distribution of half of the maximum allocated capacity on the basis of historical use, or market share. As such, both equality and equity are addressed, which were considered the fairness criteria most applicable to the distribution of commercial whitewater allocations.

With this methodology, allocations are determined in accordance with the following formula:

Allocationi = {(X * 0.50) / N} + {(X * 0.5) * Si},


where

Allocationi is the calculated allocation for license i,

X is the maximum allocated capacity for the river or river segment,

N is the number of valid licenses on the river or river segment, and

Si is the revolving three-year average seasonal market share for license i.

The methodology facilitates annual revision and adjustment of allocations as directed by §20.2-23a. Also, a revolving three-year market share average was used to moderate wide fluctuations in seasonal market share and allow for gradual change in the commercial whitewater industry. To minimize uncertainty and allow for future planning, it was determined that the three-year revolving average market share shall be calculated using river use data from four years previous to the target year. For example, allocations for license i in the year 2000 will be based on the average seasonal market share for license i from the 1996 through 1998 seasons.

The methodology also provides for the systematic and objective determination of basal allocations associated with each commercial whitewater license. In other words, the first term in the allocation formula specifies that 50% the allocated capacity of a river or river segment be distributed equally among all valid licenses. This value in effect determines the basal allocation for each license on the river. Basal allocation values can vary only when LAC indicator standards warrant an increase or decrease in the allocated capacity of the river or river segment, when the number of licenses changes by either revocation of existing licenses or issuance of new licenses, or when allocations are transferred or sold. An example may help demonstrate the utility of the allocation formula:

Outfitter i is licensed to a operate on a river with a maximum allocated capacity of 1,000 user days, and has a three-year average market share of 8%. Twenty valid licenses are issued on the river. Plugging these values into the allocation formula results in the following allocation:

Allocationi = {(1,000 * 0.50) / 20} + {(1,000 * 0.50) * 8%}

Allocationi = {25 + 40}

Allocationi = 65 User Days

The basal allocation as determined by the first term of the formula is 25 user days, and applies to all twenty licenses on the river. The 40 user days was obtained from the second term in the formula and reflects the application of the market share held by outfitter i to the remaining 50% of the maximum allocated capacity of the river. When combined, the total allocation for outfitter i of 65 user days.

Implementation of the proposed allocation methodology on the five study rivers requires specification of maximum allocated capacities for each river or river segment, as well as basal allocations for each license. The issue of specifying maximum allowable river capacities should be addressed through the proposed LAC river management framework. In other words, critical standards were established for LAC indicators on designated whitewater zones. When indicator standards are violated or exceeded, allocations on those river segments are to be evaluated and adjusted accordingly (see LAC River Management Framework). Based on the findings of the three-year study, the LAC river management framework, and the allocation methodology described above, the LAC committee determined maximum allocated capacities for selected whitewater study zones as follows:



  


River or River Segment Maximum Allocated Capacity per River or River Segment Basal Allocation Per License
Cheat Canyon None specified at this time 40 User Days
Cheat Narrows None specified at this time 40 User Days
Upper New 2,000 User Days 42 User Days
Lower New 3,875 User Days 81 User Days
Upper Gauley 3,040 User Days 61 User Days
Lower Gauley 2,000 User Days 40 User Days
Shenandoah  None specified at this time 40 User Days
Tygart Valley None specified at this time None specified at this time


 
 



No maximum allocated capacities are specified for the Cheat Canyon, Cheat Narrows, Tygart Valley, or Shenandoah Rivers. According to the findings of the three-year study and the LAC river management framework, few crowding, congestion, or carrying capacity problems appear to exist such that specification of maximum capacities for these river segments was not warranted. However, it should be noted that the take-out on the Shenandoah river is of limited capacity and as such deserves special attention before any action is taken to specify allocated capacities or issue additional whitewater licenses on this river.

The specified basal allocations for these segments were not determined by the proposed allocation formula and are admittedly arbitrary. However, until such time as the LAC framework indicates that maximum allocated capacities are warranted, application of the allocation formula to calculate basal allocations was deemed inappropriate. Commercial use of the Tygart River currently occurs at such low levels that specification of maximum river capacities and basal allocations to be conferred with a license was deemed inappropriate.

Maximum allocated capacities and per license basal allocations were specified for the Upper and Lower New, and Upper and Lower Gauley Rivers in accordance with the findings of the three-year study, the application of the LAC management framework, and the proposed allocation methodology formula. The maximum allocated capacities for the Upper Gauley and Lower New represent arbitrary capacities under which the whitewater industry has operated since enactment of §20.2-23a in 1992. An increase of these capacities was not considered due to a finding of significant crowding and congestion during peak-use periods, especially on weekends. Conversely, since the industry effectively has expanded toward these capacities since 1992, especially on the Upper Gauley, the LAC committee feared a decrease would result in financial hardship for the industry and undesirable negative consequences in terms of the economic impacts of tourism generated by the industry. However, future adjustments may be considered under the LAC river management framework.

The maximum allocated capacity specified for the Upper New River is somewhat arbitrary in that it exceeds substantially the maximum level of use on record for that river segment. For example, the maximum daily use level on record occurred on May 18, 1996 when only 844 user days were reported on the Upper New. It is suspected that over half of the user days reported on that date were transferred to the Upper New from other river segments because of aberrant river flow condition. On the next highest day on record only 448 user days were reported, and use exceeded 400 user days on only five days during the 1995 and 1996 seasons.

However, the capacity of 2,000 user days on the Upper New allows for the specification of per license basal allocations in accordance with the proposed allocation methodology, provides a starting point for future monitoring of river conditions under the LAC river management framework, and resolves ambiguity in the current allocation structure on the New River. The issue as to whether 2,000 user days is appropriate for the Upper New will be addressed as data are collected and analyzed within the future monitoring component of the LAC river management framework.

Of all river segments investigated during the three-year study, the Lower Gauley presented itself as having the highest level of crowding and congestion, and the greatest proportion of customers whose trip expectations were not met. Consequently, maximum capacities and the implementation of allocations were called for to provide a measure of control over conditions on this river segment. The maximum allocated capacity of 2,000 user days exceeds the maximum level of use on record at the time for the Lower Gauley by approximately 200 user days. However, implementation of the LAC river management framework and the allocation methodology will accommodate adjustments of capacities as river conditions vary and, as on the Upper New, resolve ambiguity of the current allocation structure.

The proposed allocation methodology requires three years of reliable and accurate commercial use data for the determination of the three-year market share average for each license. Presently only two years (1995 and 1996) of reliable data are available. Fluctuations in market share appear to occur in relatively small increments (i.e., < 1%) on an annual basis. Consequently, the 1995 and 1996 data are believed to be of sufficient quality to calculate a two-year average market share for the purpose of immediate implementation of the methodology and to determine allocations for the 1998 season. Allocation determinations subsequent to 1998 should use the three-year as proposed above.

As with any reformulation of river allocations, winners and losers are inevitable. In other words, some license holders will gain allocations while others lose allocations. To minimize the negative effects from an immediate reduction in allocations, implementation of the methodology should provide a temporary variance option, for three years subsequent to the implementation date, for outfitters whose allocations fall below current levels. This variance option should allow those whose allocations are reduced to requests, on an as needed daily basis, permission to exceed newly determined allocations up to pre-implementation levels.


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A Revised Proposal for an Allocation Methodology for Rivers in West Virginia

The LAC committee proposed an allocation methodology to the Whitewater Commission on September 17, 1997 that consisted of a combination of allotment techniques: an even split (i.e., parity) component plus a seasonal market share (i.e., historical use) component. The original proposal accommodated the distribution of equal portions of 50% of the maximum allocated capacity of a river or river segment to all valid whitewater licenses, as well as the distribution of 50% on the basis of market share. Market share was to be determined using a revolving three-year average to moderate variations in an outfitter's performance and allow for gradual change in the commercial whitewater industry. The methodology also provided a mechanism for the systematic and objective determination of basal allocations to be conferred with each whitewater license. Basal allocations could change only when LAC indicator standards warranted an increase or decrease in the maximum allocated capacity of the river or river segment, when allocations were bought and sold, or when the number of whitewater licenses changed.

During the public comment period numerous discussions and meetings took place among WVU investigators, the LAC committee, the commercial outfitting community, representatives of the DNR, banking officials, and other interested parties. In these discussions and meetings the merits of the proposed methodology were debated. As well, written comments and proposals for alternative allocation methodologies were received for consideration. Including the allocation methodology proposed by the LAC committee, which has come to be known as "50/50", alternative allocation methodologies that have been proposed take three basic forms:




  


Methodology Description
50/50 (LAC Committee) 50% Even Split (Parity) plus 50% Market Share (described above)
90/10 License Percentage (LP) 90% by Current License Percentage (LP) plus 10% by Market Share
Parity Even Split (Parity or Equal Shares) allotted to each license


 
 



The 90/10 LP methodology would use a concept called License Percentage to determine basal allocations to be conferred with a license. LP reflects the proportion of the maximum capacity of a river or river segment accounted for the temporary allocations specified for each outfitter on the New and Gauley rivers in the 1992 legislation that authorized the study. Allocations would be calculated by the following formula:

Allocationi = {LP (X * 0.90)} + {(X * 0.1) * Si},


where

Allocationi is the calculated allocation for license i,

X is the maximum allocated capacity for the river or river segment,

Si is the revolving three-year average seasonal market share for license i

LP is the license percentage current allocation of license i
 

The 90/10 LP methodology is illustrated in the following example:

Outfitter i is licensed to a operate on a river with a maximum allocated capacity of 3,875 user days, has a current allocation of 150, and has a three-year average market share of 8%. Plugging these values into the allocation formula results in the following allocation:

Allocationi = {3.87% * (3,875 * 90%)} + {(3,875 * 10%) * 8%}

Allocationi = {135 +31}

Allocationi = 166 User Days
 

Throughout the six-week comment period it became apparent that each alternative allocation methodology has its own particular set of advantages and disadvantages. As well, it appears that each has gained certain levels of support from within the community of commercial whitewater outfitters. Each alternative has been evaluated in terms of applicable allocation design principles identified by the LAC committee and described above, and other criteria identified during the comment period (Table 6).




  


Table 6. Comparative Evaluation of Alternative Allocation Methodologies Proposed during the Public Comment Period.

Evaluative Criteria Alternative Allocation Methodologya
LAC Committee 50/50 90/10 License Percentage Parity
Resolves Ambiguity of New and Gauley River Allocations 5 5 5
Mechanism for Specifying Basal Allocations  5 5 5
Recognizes Equity Issues 4 2 1
Recognizes Equality Issues 3 4 5
Mechanism for Annual Adjustment 5 5 5
Promotes Full Utilization of Available Resource Capacity 5 3 2
Promotes Tourism and Related Economic Impacts 5 3 2
Incentive to Develop New  

Rafting Products 
4 2 1
Difficulty for Administrators 3 2 5
Applicable to all Study Rivers 5 1 5
Recognizes Recent Allocation Sales/Transfers 3 5 1
Recognizes Future Allocation Sales/Transfers 5 5 3
Overall Rating Very Good (4.3) Good (3.4) Good (2.9)
Rating Scale: Excellent (Scale Value = 5) ; Very Good (Scale Value = 4) ; Good (Scale Value = 3) ; Fair (Scale Value = 2) ; Poor (Scale Value = 1) 


 



Based the relative merits each of the three proposed alternative allocation methodologies and the opinions gathered through the comment period and formally submitted to the LAC committee, a revised allocation methodology was developed. The revised methodology incorporates many ideas and suggestions that have been tendered, and at the end of the comment period had a relatively high level of support among the LAC committee and the commercial outfitting community. Modifications to the originally proposed allocation methodology include

* Adopt the 90/10 License Percentage (LP) method on the currently allocated river segments, which include the Upper Gauley and Lower New Rivers;
* Adopt the 50/50 LAC Committee method on the currently unallocated river segments, which include the Lower Gauley, Upper New, Cheat Canyon, Cheat Narrows, Shenandoah, and Tygart Valley Rivers;
* Continue the policy of capping single days when 90% of allocated capacity is reached. This policy provides for a 10% over-booking allowance is on capped days and a 25% over-booking allowance on non-capped days;
* Divide the Upper New River into two distinct sections, those being from Hinton to Prince, and Prince to Cunard;
* Establish maximum allocated river capacities and basal allocations as illustrated below. These capacities represent modifications of those recommended by the LAC committee in its original proposal for the Upper and Lower New, and Lower Gauley Rivers. Specifically, no capacity was specified on the Upper New in the revised proposal because it was believed that the capacity originally proposed (i.e., 2,000 user days) was non-binding given that current use is far below that level, and that additional information from future monitoring was needed to specify an appropriate capacity. On the Lower New, a capacity of 3,500 user days was proposed in the revised methodology because it was believed to better represent appropriate and acceptable river conditions in the context of the LAC river management framework. Study findings suggest that crowding and congestion approach undesirable levels when commercial river use nears 3,000 user days, especially at low water levels. Also, the current policy on over-booking allowances on capped (90% of capacity) and non-capped (<90% of capacity) days would be rendered non-binding and ineffective with a maximum capacity of 3,875 user days as originally proposed. For example, 3,488 user days (i.e., ninety percent of 3,875) is 312 user days higher than the highest day on record for the Lower New. Consequently, at a capacity of 3,875 it is unlikely that any days would be capped, and over-booking by 25% above allocations would occur even on extremely high use days. Finally, on the Lower Gauley a revised capacity of 2,500 user days was proposed to compensate for inaccuracies in commercial use data on that river segment. Because of the complexity of reporting requirements, many outfitters failed to understand that so called "marathon" Gauley trips (i.e., trips that traverse both the Upper and Lower Gauley) must be reported for both river sections. In the past these trips have been reported as Upper Gauley trips. It was believed that a capacity of 2,500 user days more closely represents an acceptable maximum for the Lower Gauley when previously unreported use was taken into consideration.
 



  


River or River Segment Maximum Allocated Capacity Basal Allocation Per License
Cheat Canyon Undetermined capacity - further study required 50/50 Formula when LAC indicator scores indicate a capacity be established
Cheat Narrows Undetermined capacity - further study required 50/50 Formula when LAC indicator scores indicate a capacity be established
Upper New Undetermined capacity - further study required 50/50 Formula when LAC indicator scores indicate a capacity be established
Lower New 3,500 User Days 90/10 LP Formula
Upper Gauley 3,040 User Days 90/10 LP Formula
Lower Gauley 2,500 User Days 50/50 LAC Committee Formula
Shenandoah Undetermined capacity - further study required 50/50 Formula when LAC indicator scores indicate a capacity be established
Tygart Valley Undetermined capacity - further study required 50/50 Formula when LAC indicator scores indicate a capacity be established


 



* Use a three-year rolling average to determine market share for allocation determination - as originally proposed;
* Implement monitoring of LAC indicators in accordance with the LAC River Management Framework and establish and/or adjust maximum allocated capacities per river conditions;
* Immediately and fully implement the revised allocation methodology upon approval by the Commission. Since the revised allocation methodology yields only minor adjustments to allocations on currently allocated river segments (i.e., the Upper Gauley and Lower New), the three-year implementation period originally proposed to allow license holders to adjust to new allocations is not justified.



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Final Allocation Methodology Approved by the Whitewater Commission for Rivers in West Virginia

The LAC committee presented a revised allocation methodology to the Whitewater Commission on November 12, 1997 that consisted of the so called 90/10 License Percentage (LP) method on currently allocated river segments (Upper Gauley and Lower New) and the so called 50/50 method on all other river segments within designated whitewater zones. Revised capacities for the New and Gauley Rivers also were proposed. During the December 17, 1997 Whitewater Commission, modifications to the revised allocation methodology were accepted through the amendment process, and a final allocation methodology was approved. Components of the final allocation methodology are summarized as follows, and implications and limitations of methodology are illustrated (Table 7):
 

* Adopt the 90/10 License Percentage (LP) method on the Upper Gauley, Lower Gauley, and Lower New Rivers;
* Adopt the 50/50 LAC Committee method on the Upper New, Cheat Canyon, Cheat Narrows, Shenandoah, and Tygart Valley Rivers when LAC indicator scores indicate a capacity be established;
* Continue the policy of capping single days when 90% of allocated capacity is reached. This policy provides for a 10% over-booking allowance is on capped days and a 25% over-booking allowance on non-capped days;
* Divide the Upper New River into two distinct sections, those being from Hinton to Prince, and Prince to Cunard;
* Establish maximum allocated river capacities and basal allocations as follows:
*  



  


River or River Segment Maximum Allocated Capacity Basal Allocation Per License
Cheat Canyon Undetermined capacity - further study required 50/50 Formula when LAC indicator scores indicate a capacity be established
Cheat Narrows Undetermined capacity - further study required 50/50 Formula when LAC indicator scores indicate a capacity be established
Upper New Undetermined capacity - further study required 50/50 Formula when LAC indicator scores indicate a capacity be established
Lower New 3,875 User Days 90/10 LP Formula
Upper Gauley 3,040 User Days 90/10 LP Formula
Lower Gauley 3,040 User Days 90/10 LP Formula
Shenandoah Undetermined capacity - further study required 50/50 Formula when LAC indicator scores indicate a capacity be established
Tygart Valley Undetermined capacity - further study required 50/50 Formula when LAC indicator scores indicate a capacity be established


 



* Use a three-year rolling average to determine market share for allocation determination - as originally proposed;
* Implement monitoring of LAC indicators in accordance with the LAC River Management Framework and establish and/or adjust maximum allocated capacities per river conditions;
* Immediately and fully implement the revised allocation methodology upon approval by the Commission. Since the revised allocation methodology yields only minor adjustments to allocations on currently allocated river segments (i.e., the Upper Gauley and Lower New), the three-year implementation period originally proposed to allow license holders to adjust to new allocations is not justified.



  


Table 7. Implications of the Final Allocation Methodology for Rivers in West Virginia

Criteria Implication
Resolves ambiguity of New and Gauley river allocations Ambiguity of New and Gauley River allocations is resolved by explicitly specifying capacities and allocation formulas applicable to each river segment, however, the assumption that the license percentage (LP) concept is applicable to the Lower Gauley is debatable
Mechanism for specifying basal allocations  On the Lower New and Upper and Lower Gauley, basal allocations will be determined by applying license percentage (LP) to 90% of allocated capacities; on all other river segments basal allocations will be determined by distributing 50% of allocated capacity equally to all licenses
Recognizes equity issues Equity issues are satisfied when allocations are distributed in proportion to investment (time, effort, and/or money) toward developing or preserving the resource. Equity issues are minimally satisfied by the 90/10 LP formula in that LP is based on arbitrarily defined allocations that inaccurately reflect outfitter presence on a river segment. 
Recognizes equality issues Equality issues are satisfied when allocations are distributed equally among all licensed outfitters. Equality issues are substantially satisfied by the 90/10 LP formula in that LP is based on arbitrarily defined allocations that essentially equalize basal allocations for 80% of licensed outfitters, while applying performance measures (i.e., market share) to only 10% of allocated capacity. 
Mechanism for annual adjustment Both the 90/10 LP and 50/50 formulas are amenable to annual adjustment of allocations.
Promotes utilization of available resource capacity and related tourism and economic impacts Full utilization of available river capacity is limited by the 90/10 LP methodology in that only a small component of allocations will be determined by actual performance on a river or river segment (i.e., market share applied to only 10% of capacity). Consequently, allocations by the 90/10 LP method may fail to ensure that distributed allocations will be utilized. 
Distributes allocations to match the physical and/or operational capacity of license holders In 1995 and 1996 peak days for several outfitters, which are presumed to reflect outfitter capacity somewhat accurately, were substantially below allocations in effect during those seasons. Allocations determined by the 90/10 LP formula are only slightly different from allocations in effect in 1995 and 1996. Thus allocations resulting from the 90/10 LP method may not match outfitter capacity. Safety considerations also may be of concern if allocations fail to match outfitter capacity (i.e., no provision that outfitters have equipment or trained staff in sufficient numbers to safely fill their allocations). 


 


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RIVER SAFETY

Outfitter Safety Programs

A survey of whitewater outfitters in West Virginia was conducted to assess the composition and variability of safety programs in the commercial rafting industry in the state. Twenty-six of approximately thirty outfitters returned completed surveys, and outfitters licensed on all five study rivers were represented. The literature on organizational safety programs suggests that well implemented and effective safety programs contain certain key elements. These elements include, but are not limited to, a written safety policy and active leadership from management; assignment of the responsibility for the safety program to an individual or team; review and analysis of organizational behavior and facilities for hazards; investigation, documentation, and record keeping; maintenance of staff interest in safety; and health and safety training. The objective of this survey was to evaluate safety programs in rafting industry relative to these key elements.

Twenty-one (81%) of the 26 outfitters reported that they have developed a written safety policy (Table 8). An organization's safety policy serves as the foundation of its safety program. It should set forth the ideals of the organization with respect to safety, and make clear the commitment of management to living up to those ideals. The ideals contained in a safety policy should include a statement of commitment to providing a safe environment for employees and patrons; the realization that safety takes precedence over production or profits; a willingness to do everything necessary to avoid or prevent accidents; and a resolve to make every attempt to comply with federal, state, and local laws and regulations that pertain to safety (Scott 1994). While a large proportion of outfitters reported having written safety policies, the content of outfitter safety policies were not available for examination. Thus it is not known whether the safety policies of whitewater outfitters in West Virginia contain any of the ideals described above.



  


Table 8. Elements of Safety Programs of Commercial Whitewater Outfitters in West Virginia
Safety Program Element Yes No Did Not Respond
Written safety policy 21 5 0
A safety director whose primary responsibility is to oversee the safety program 15 11 0
Internal standards for analyzing safety program effectiveness 16 10 0
Near misses - incidents where injuries were likely to happen but were avoided - are recorded and investigated  18 8 0
Training program conducted in which instruction is given on river safety procedures and rescue techniques 25 1 0
Yearly updates of guide safety training 25 1 0
Training program includes drills of emergency river events 24 2 0
Guides required to meet minimum health or fitness standards 15 10 1
Guides required to get regular physical examinations 1 25 0
Support for minimum standards safety and training programs if implemented industry-wide in West Virginia 8 9 9
Internal procedures for recording and investigating accidents and injuries (in addition to DNR incident reports) 20 6 0
Materials/strategies used to maintain safety awareness among guides and staff
Printed Safety Materials 20 6 0
Special Recognition (Safety awards, etc.) 6 20 0
Regular Safety Meetings (Indicate weekly, monthly, etc.) 18 8 0
Incident or near miss debriefings 21 5 0
Other 14 12 0


 
 



Only 15 (58%) of 26 outfitters indicated having a safety director whose primary responsibility is to oversee the safety program (Table 8). A safety director typically is the most important individual when it comes to ensuring that the ideals set forth in a company's safety policy are carried out. In doing so, a safety director often is required to take on a leadership role in safety, set examples for others in the organization to follow, provide for safety training of other staff, perform safety-related record keeping, and recognize and correct safety hazards. Often in smaller companies, the duties of the safety director fall to a chief operating officer, foremen, or supervisor who have multiple responsibilities, only one of which is safety.

Documentation and record keeping also are important aspects of effective safety programs, as are review, investigation, and analysis of safety related information generated in the documentation process. Recording the events or circumstances leading to unsafe conditions or injuries can be useful for developing frequency and severity rates, and can aid in identifying hazards that may be otherwise overlooked. Twenty (77%) participating outfitters reported having internal procedures for recording and investigating accidents and injuries, in addition to the injury reports required by the West Virginia DNR. Using this information outfitters may adjust trip procedures, alter lines they run through rapids, or establish how safety should be set at sites that present particular safety hazards. Substantial variation probably exists among outfitters in terms of the extent and detail of safety-related record keeping, however, documentation and record keeping procedures of the industry were not scrutinized as part of this survey.

A smaller number of outfitters, 16 (62%) of 26, reported having internal standards for analyzing safety program effectiveness. Performing internal "audits" can help identify environmental conditions or flaws in operational procedures that may lead to accidents and injuries. A simple check-off safety inspection list can sometimes be used, but more complex operations or procedures may require more detailed evaluation. Eighteen (69%) outfitters reported that "near-miss" situations are recorded and investigated as part of their safety programs. Near-misses represent incidents where injuries were likely to occur but were avoided. Investigating and analyzing near-miss situations offers perhaps the best defense against the recurrence of potentially hazardous events.

To achieve an effective safety program it is important to create and maintain an interest in safety throughout the entire organization. Various techniques may be useful for this purpose and include, but are not limited to, distributing safety information, special awards and recognition, safety meetings, and incident debriefings. Outfitters participating in this survey appear to use all of these techniques to varying degrees. Incident or near-miss debriefings were the most frequently reported technique used by outfitters. Twenty-one (81%) of 26 reported that incident debriefings were a regular part of their operations. Distribution of printed safety materials was the second most frequently reported technique for maintaining staff interest in safety (20 of 26), followed by regular safety meetings (18 of 26), and special recognition or safety awards (6 of 26). Other less frequently reported techniques included attaching safety memos to paychecks, risk management and liability seminars, additional wage increments for safety training, and daily verbal reminders.

Perhaps the most important component of a safety program is training. This is especially true in an industry such as commercial whitewater rafting, where safety training is an important requirement for trip leaders, guides, and support staff. Twenty-five (96%) of reporting outfitters conduct training for river guides that includes instruction in river safety procedures and rescue techniques, and update that training on a yearly basis. Twenty-four (92%) indicated that their training programs includes drills of emergency river events. Conducting hypothetical or "mock" river emergencies can provide river staff with critical hands-on river rescue and emergency first aid training. Conversely, while most outfitters appear to conduct extensive training programs, only 15 (58%) require river guides to meet minimum health or fitness standards, and only one reported that guides are required to get physical examinations on a regular basis.

River guides and trip leaders currently are required by law to obtain only minimal health and safety training, i.e., Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) and Red Cross First Aid. While this level of training may be sufficient for most emergency situations encountered during a whitewater trip, some outfitters require or recommend their river staff, especially trip leaders, acquire more rigorous training than that required by the state (Table 9). For river guides, it appears that for the most part outfitters require little more than CPR and First Aid. One of the 26 outfitters reported they require guides to have First Responder training or a Swift Water Rescue training course, respectively. Several outfitters indicated that guides also are required to successfully complete an "in-house" river skills training course.
 



  


Table 9. Safety Training Required and Recommended by Commercial Whitewater Outfitters for Guides and Trip Leaders 
Guides Trip Leaders
Safety Training Program Required Recommended Required Recommended
Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) 26 a 25 a
Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) 0 12 2b 17
Winter Emergency Care (WEC) 0 5 1b 5
Wilderness First Aid 0 11 4b 10
Wilderness EMT 0 11 3b 13
First Responderc 1 16 7b 16
American Canoe Association River Rescue 0 13 2b 12
Rescue 3 Swift Water Rescue 1 14 2 17
Red Cross First Aid 24 a 22 a
Red Cross Water Safety Instructor 0 5 0 5
Other 10 3 5 5
a CPR and First Aid are required for guides and trip leaders. b Up to three outfitters indicated they require Trip Leaders the have advanced first aid, including at least one of these training courses, so rates in this table may be over-reported relative to actual rates. c Includes First Responder and Wilderness First Responder


 
 



While outfitters appear to require little more training for guides than is required by state law, they indicated they recommend additional, more advanced forms of emergency or safety training. In decreasing order, the forms of advanced training recommend by outfitters include First Responder or Wilderness First Responder; Rescue 3 Swift Water Rescue; ACA River Rescue; Emergency Medical Technician (EMT); Wilderness First Aid or Wilderness EMT; Winter Emergency Care (WEC); and Water Safety Instructor (WSI). While outfitters reported recommending these forms of emergency training, it was beyond the scope of this study to evaluate the extent to which guides acquire such training. Consequently, no data were available to make that determination.

Trip leaders generally have more river experience and expertise than river guides, and it appears that many outfitters require them to obtain emergency and safety training beyond that required of them by the state. In decreasing order, outfitters require trip leaders to have the following training in addition to CPR and First Aid: First Responder or Wilderness First Responder; Wilderness First Aid; Wilderness EMT; EMT; Rescue 3 Swift Water Rescue; ACA River Rescue; or Winter Emergency Care (WEC). Among the outfitters not requiring these forms of training for trip leaders, 5 to 17 of the 26 indicated that they are recommended. As was the case for guides, no data were available to determine the extent to which trip leaders attain emergency or safety training recommended by outfitters.

While the essential elements of effective safety programs described in this report are not mandatory for the commercial whitewater rafting industry in West Virginia, licensed outfitters in the state generally have integrated many of the elements into their operations and staff training. Most have written safety policies; record and investigate near- misses, accidents, and injuries; attempt to maintain staff interest in safety through various techniques, and conduct in-house safety training courses. It must be noted that the safety program elements reported by outfitters were not evaluated in detail. On the other hand, certain deficiencies also exist. For example, only 58% of outfitters reported having a safety director on staff with the responsibility of implementing and managing the safety program. As well, few outfitters require guides and trip leaders to meet minimum health and fitness levels, and only one requires regular physical examinations for their guiding staff.


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Health Profile Data for 811 Commercial Boaters on the Gauley River, 1993

General Information


Respondents had a mean age of 31.39 years, with a maximum age of 70 and a minimum age of 4. Frequencies of age indicated that the majority of individuals (98%) were between the ages of 19 and 44.The average height of respondents was 68.63 inches (5' 8"), with a maximum of 83 inches (6' 11") and a minimum of 36 inches (3' 0"). The majority of respondents (95%) were between 60 (5' 0") and 76 (6' 4") inches.With regards to gender, the sample consisted of 307 females and 504 males, with corresponding sample proportions of 37.8% and 62.2%, respectively.The mean weight of the subjects was 162 pounds. The maximum weight was 310 pounds while the minimum weight was 30 pounds. The distribution of weight was skewed with 46% of individuals between 160 and 220 pounds and 45% under 160 pounds.788 respondents (95.7%) either didn't respond or indicated that they were not under a physicians care at the time of the survey. However, 33 individuals (4%) indicated that they were under the care of a physician care.Respondents indicated that only 8.5% (n=69) used daily medications, while 91.5% (n=753) did not use daily medications.A majority if subjects reported their overall health to be either good (40%) or excellent (58.6%). Only 1.4% reported being in less than good health. The average health rating was 3.56 on the 4-point response scale consisting of 1=poor, 2=fair, 3=good, and 4=excellent.
 


Health Details


Five individuals (.6%) were diabetic while the remainder of the respondents were not.Two respondents (.2%) indicated that they experienced convulsions while the remainder of respondents did not experience convulsions.Asthma affected 2.9% of individuals (n=24).Only one subject (.1%) indicated that they had a lung condition.Smokers represented 13.1% of the sample, while 86.9% were non-smokers.2.9% of the sample had a history of shoulder dislocation.82% of the sample had no allergies. 14.7% had hay fever or a seasonal allergy, while only 2.1% had a bee sting allergy. Only 1.1% of respondents had a food allergy or any combination of listed allergies. (0=no or missing, 1=hay fever or other seasonal allergy, 2=bee sting allergy, 3=food allergy, 4=combination of two or more of the above).Only 3.5% of the sample indicated having a back condition.Panic attacks occurred in only .2% of the sample (2 individuals).Only one (0.1%) individual out of 824 reported having previously experienced excessive bleeding.12.6% of the subjects stated that they used aspirin in the 24 hours preceding the trip.A physical disability occurred in only 1 subject of 823 (.1%). This subject had an inability to use their hand.One subject (.1%) was pregnant of 824 sampled1.1% (n=9) of the subjects reported having elevated blood pressure99.8% of the subjects did not have chest pain with exertionEight subjects (1%) suffered a previous heart condition1.9% (n=16) of the sample reported elevated cholesterolFive subjects (.6%) had irregular heart beats.4 individuals (.5%) had previous heart attacks
 



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Whitewater Rafting Injuries in West Virginia 1990 - 1995: A Descriptive Summary

By Kathy Zhu, Virgil Norton, and Andy Whisman


Key Findings and Recommendations

Over the six years for which data were analyzed for the five study rivers, 53% of all reported commercial whitewater injuries occurred in the raft; 34% occurred during a swim (falling out of the raft and floating a rapid); 8% occurred on shore at the put-in, take-out, lunch stop, or other stop along the river; and about 5% occurred at unspecified locations. A large proportion of injuries occurring in the raft involve contact among customers while running rapids or accidentally striking one another with a paddle. These incidents most often result in injuries to the face. Injuries that occur on shore most generally involve the legs, knees, or ankles, while injuries that occur during swims typically involve the face, leg, or knee. Overall, most whitewater injuries were open wounds (i.e., cuts or abrasions), followed by sprains, fractures, bruises, and dislocations. Five whitewater deaths were reported in the State during the six year reporting period. The proportions just described remained remarkably consistent from year to year, and from river to river.

Injury reporting requirements changed at the beginning of the 1994 season such that only those injuries requiring treatment by licensed medical providers, excluding diagnostic procedures, needed to be reported. This change may have affected the number of injuries reported for the 1994 and 1995 seasons compared to previous years. Consequently, caution is advised in making annual comparisons of injury rates. It is also suspected that the injury data is of questionable reliability. Such factors as incomplete information on submitted injury report forms, changes in the reporting from year to year, inconsistent interpretation of the phrase "reportable injuries," and the diligence of outfitters in reporting injuries may affect the accuracy of the data. Because of these questions, no concrete generalizations can or should be made about the commercial whitewater injuries rates.

Additional findings and recommendations are as follows:

* The data reflect reported injuries, and are accurate only to the extent that companies are conscientious about reporting injuries.
* The reporting forms vary from year to year, and sometimes vary within a given year. Some companies use the State form, while others use their own form. In some years there are duplicate reports on file, one on the State form and the other on a company form. Only careful cross checking can prevent double counting of injuries.
* Many of the forms are incomplete, and forms are often unclear regarding whether first aid was given. Also, its not always clear what constitutes first aid.
* The questions regarding hospitalization and release from hospital are probably not accurate (e.g., hospitalization when?). It appears that there may be differences regarding how different companies interpret hospitalization (i.e., is the emergency room considered hospitalization?).
* A substantial difference appears to exist in the amount of writing done by individuals reporting injuries. Oftentimes, the writing is difficult to read, and written comments are often inconsistent.
* The number of accidents reported in 1995 was only about half the number in previous years which probably reflects the change in reporting requirements and the definition of "reportable injuries" implemented in 1994. Consequently, caution should be used when comparing injury rates in 1995 with previous years.
* The reporting policy and form should be reconsidered. Unless all companies are required to accurately report accidents, a disincentive exists to report injuries (i.e., being honest makes an outfitter look bad if others are under reporting, or not reporting at all).
* Just having the data in the DNR files (especially if the data do not accurately reflect the actual injury rates and severity) is probably not useful. DNR and the Whitewater Commission must decide: (1) if the reporting of injuries is important; (2) what is the purpose of having the data on record; (3) the need for monitoring; (4) how monitoring should be carried out and by whom; and (5) how to enforce compliance and penalties for not reporting. Unless these questions are addressed, it is uncertain that the reporting of injuries should be continued.
* If reporting is continued, a new form should be designed. It should minimize written comments, ask for only the most important information, and should be designed completely as a "check-off" form. This would eliminate much of the inconsistency among companies that now exists in the information provided on the forms, and would make data entry and analysis much easier.
* An annual average of about 90 injuries were reported -- the range was from 119 in 1992 to 53 in 1995
* About half of the injuries happened in the boat -- about one-third in the water while swimming a rapid
* More than one in five injuries were to the face -- the knee and ankle were the body parts next most often injured
* In-the-boat injuries were most often to the face. The leg, knee, and face were the most often injured during a swim. The ankle, knee, and leg were the most often injured on shore.
* A single bar attached to the helmet and designed to go across the face may be a method of preventing many face injuries. Face injuries are the most common, and most face injuries are caused in the boat by a paddle or by another passenger's helmet.
* "Horsing around" is the cause of many accidents, some of which are quite serious and require evacuation. The outfitters or the Commission, or both, may wish to address this issue.


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REFERENCES

Shelby, B. and Danley, M. S. (1980). Allocating river use. USDA Forest Service Technical Report R-6-Rec-059.

Shelby, B. B., J. J. Vaske, and T. A. Heberlein. (1989). Comparative analysis of crowding in multiple locations: Results of fifteen years of research. Leisure Sciences 11:269-291.

Shelby, B. B. and T. A. Heberlein. (1986). Carrying capacity in recreation settings. Corvallis, OR: Oregon State University Press.

Shelby, B. B., Whittaker, D. and Danley, M. (1989). Idealism versus pragmatism in user evaluations of allocation systems. Leisure Sciences 11:61-70.

Utter, J., Gleason, W. and McCool, S. F. (1981). User perceptions of river allocation techniques. In D. W. Lime and D. R. Field (Eds.), Some recent products of river recreation research, (General Technical Report NC-63, pp. 27-32). USDA Forest Service, North central Forest Experiment Station, St. Paul, MN.