With adrenaline keeping rafters warm over rainy, cold weekends, outfitters are reporting a hopeful uptick in rafting tourism after several years of decline.
“I think all the outfitters are showing a bit of increase, and that may have something to do with the economy and the Division of Tourism working hard to help all the state’s tourism industries,” said Bobby Bower, executive director of West Virginia Professional River Outfitters. “We are seeing reverse trends in energy, but tourism is a sustainable industry.”
“I hope this signifies a new trend for us and that we get new people coming to raft the Gauley,” he said.
These strong numbers are despite heavy rain and cold. Last weekend held the possibility of flooding on the New River, which could force the Army Corps of Engineers to cut back the 2,800 cubic feet of water per second they release from Summersville Dam to make whitewater rafting possible.
Bassage said outfitters kept in contact with the Corps and were aware the New River might get so high they would not want additional water coming in from the Gauley, and they were prepared to make alternate arrangements for rafters.
That didn’t happen, but the New River is running at high springtime levels, which is unusual for this time of year, he said.
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