Professor Paddle: Upper Sultan Problems
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okeefe
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  Quote okeefe Replybullet Topic: Upper Sultan Problems
    Posted: 25 Apr 2016 at 9:26am
Just so folks know, I received this note below from Snohomish PUD last night. I realize this release happened during the Robe Race and over a weekend where the Wenatchee was quite appealing but if this happens again, we're going to loose the opportunities we worked so hard to get on the Sultan. If you sign up, you need to show up.

*****

Tom - based on this weekend's experience, we have some very serious problems with providing flows for whitewater recreation. We had 7 persons pre-register for the event. In response, we mobilized 4 operators and 4 other staff to manage the event. We had 1 pre-registered individual show up, accompanied by one who did not. The other 6 apparently decided to simply not show. This does not sit well with us and will be reflected in our reporting. This will ultimately inform how the program is conducted in the future. I realize this is not your personal style but I would encourage you to inform your constituents to be more respectful of our time and resources.

Keith
Thomas O'Keefe
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American Whitewater
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jondufay
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  Quote jondufay Replybullet Posted: 25 Apr 2016 at 11:18am
Tom,
I agree, that is a problem. Would it be possible to try to negotiate for releases when there are less boating options? I have been kayaking for 12 years now and it seems like there is never a shortage of options this time of year. As I am sure that you are aware, the reason we had something like 323 boaters show up to run Chelan this year is because there was nothing else to boat so we flocked there from all corners of the Northwest. I would imagine that releases scheduled in August and September would not have this issue. Just my $0.02. Thanks for you work on negotiating releases. I appreciate all that you and AW do.    
ahh, f--- it dude, lets go boating...
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ConradLilleness
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  Quote ConradLilleness Replybullet Posted: 25 Apr 2016 at 12:32pm
Tom,

I will say that Drew and I were incredibly stoked to get on the Upper Sultan for the first time. The SnoPUD guys were top notch and helpful throughout the entire trip by giving us rides to and from the put-in, allowing us to cross the bridge at the take-out, etc. We will certainly be a part of the next release if it's still an option.

Thanks to you and others for making this all possible,
Conrad
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okeefe
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  Quote okeefe Replybullet Posted: 25 Apr 2016 at 12:55pm
Making changes is always possible although we have to fit within narrow windows that are approved by fish managers. The big problem is having people not show. We are supposed to have 6 people to hold a release. If people don't sign up, we know that up front, and the release is not held, no staff are mobilized and we can bank the water for a future opportunity. If we have no shows I have to sit in a bunch of meetings and be subjected to a long litany of arguments over what this is costing. My ability to negotiate changes is also compromised. It's OK. It happened; we'll work through it. Just please don't let this happen again. Next date is likely Saturday after Labor Day weekend.
Thomas O'Keefe
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American Whitewater
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AdamG
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  Quote AdamG Replybullet Posted: 25 Apr 2016 at 1:15pm
Tom, thanks for sharing this feedback and the point that PUD is committing resources and ultimately costs to these releases and it's based on the sign-in process. Making an appointment to run a river is not standard operations and I dare guess that some boaters may not have realized this and the implications of a "no-show". Sharing/reminding the community outside of PP is probably a good idea and probably already on your list. I appreciate all that you and AW do and I look forward to my next Sultan trip.
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JayB
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  Quote JayB Replybullet Posted: 25 Apr 2016 at 7:05pm
-Is there any possibility that the release dates could be standardized? Or at least partially standardized?

I realize there are many factors that determine when and if releases occur, but based on on my experience on the East Coast - vaguely standard release dates (weekend after Labor Day, etc) dramatically increase participation.

Thanks for all that you do.

-Jay
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  Quote BIGWATER Replybullet Posted: 25 Apr 2016 at 10:25pm
I signed up and showed up at the takeout at 8am. No one was there so at 8:30 I headed to the put in and got there at 9. I hung out at the put in for over 2 hours with the PUD guys and no one else showed up. I realize the Robe race and all, but I don't like crowds so I thought it would be a uncrowded release. But not empty! So I left and went to the Wenatchee. Glad Conrad got in there. I was ready to hike in at 9 and watch the water rise. I didn't feel like rushing through on the last hour of the release.
Thanks for all your work Tom and sorry you have to deal with the no show issues. I'm sure this will cost you much more time that it did me. Thanks again
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  Quote outdoorjunkie88 Replybullet Posted: 26 Apr 2016 at 5:59pm
I know on the east coast especially the southeast, dam operations and kayakers work together very well. Boaters create their calendars based on dam releases. Everything has dams on it out there and they do an amazing job on scheduled releases. But the biggest thing is, The boaters show up and in big numbers. The robe race is a small percentage of class V boaters. This section is class 3-4, with the exception of one class v rapid that can easily be portaged. I don't think anything on it was more difficult than boulder drop at low flows and I know it wasn't more difficult than boulder drop at med-high flows. There are a ton of dam activists out there and I love the river just as much as the next person which is why we need to work with dam operations and not against them. We put on at noonish and didn't feel rushed at all. I thought the release didnt even start until 10. The PUD guys asked me where everyone was and I was initially confused because we were late. I think I replied with what do you mean, isnt everyone here?
Drew C.
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ckoontz
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  Quote ckoontz Replybullet Posted: 27 Apr 2016 at 7:53am
Originally posted by outdoorjunkie88

I know on the east coast especially the southeast, dam operations and kayakers work together very well. Boaters create their calendars based on dam releases. Everything has dams on it out there and they do an amazing job on scheduled releases. But the biggest thing is, The boaters show up and in big numbers.


As a recent transplant from the SE I can tell you that this is because if you don't paddle dam release from May-December, you don't paddle. With the exception of a rare tropical storm or a once in a decade very wet summer.
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iron monkey
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  Quote iron monkey Replybullet Posted: 27 Apr 2016 at 3:50pm
Just gonna throw this out there...

Coming from a long time paddling in the southeast home of ELFin, dam releaeses and southern hospitaility, the posts on PP regarding the first Sultan releases were not very inclusive and encouraging for people to show up.  The gist of those  were: Show up with your crew ready to handle your shuttle and your sh*t, dont get in trouble and mess it up for the rest of us.

I understand making a good event free showing for the Snopud, I understand being compentent and taking care of bizness, but the exclusionary tone certainly made me not wanna show up an go boat.  A shame since I have been wanting to hit this since living on the East coast and first seeing the video of the landslide.

One reason boating is so strong in the SE, lotsa dam release runs, anybody can show up, hook up and have fun. A lot of diverse people boating, not everyone has a crew built up from years of adventuring together.  There's really not a lot of boaters out here so I dont get the Seattle freeze/chill or whatever it is. 



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BIGWATER
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  Quote BIGWATER Replybullet Posted: 27 Apr 2016 at 4:57pm
So I think this thread is getting a little off track. It's not about east vs west or anything like that. It's about the fact that Tom has put years into makeing this release happen, and all his work is being compromised by people registering and not showing up. If you register you must show up, end of story. If no on registers the PUD doesn't waste water and man hours (money going down the drain in there eyes). I'm sure a lot of work went into organizing the Robe race, but we are talking weeks not years. As far as time of year April is good as it's often a time between winter rains and spring melt (not this year) and it corresponds with fish flows. The first release had 70 people the second had 2 (would have been 3 if I had waited another 30 or 40 mins) , which is technically not enough to justify releaseing and paying 4 guys on a Saturday. We need to put our own issues and ideas aside and understand that this is a privilege that Tom has worked very hard for and we need to respect that. Thanks again Tom and I hope I have the chance to run the Sultan again.
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akayakermike
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  Quote akayakermike Replybullet Posted: 27 Apr 2016 at 6:15pm
Just a quick correction, there was also a release last fall that had moderate attendance, enough people to meet the minimum requirements, but not as many as I expected. I hope releases can continue, it was a real treat to run the Sultan last fall (late summer?) when there was no water around. I managed to do a tour last fall of Washington releases (Sullivan, Chelan, Sultan). Thanks for making that possible Tom.
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  Quote cchollnd Replybullet Posted: 28 Apr 2016 at 1:49pm
Hey guys, I was one of the people that pre-registered and then didn't show up. I was using the sultan as a back-up in case robe spiked above my comfort zone. I did not understand the negative impacts of my actions on the PUD and future releases. It won't happen again, and I'll spread the word to others.
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