|Monday, Nov 3, 2008|
The 2008 Gauley River rafting season came to a close on October 19th after six weeks of Congressionally-mandated releases from Summersville Lake. Visitation to the rugged and developing NRA was high during the season, with thousands of private and commercial boaters from all over the world coming to experience the Class 1 through Class 5 world- class whitewater. The Gauley season is believed to be the largest congregation of hard boaters in the world. Rangers were involved in, assisted with, and reported on numerous service, EMS, enforcement, and SAR incidents. Rangers assisted with and handled a number of injuries, including broken bones, dislocations, lacerations, and non-specific complaints resulting in evacuations and transport to local hospitals. River rangers performed daily assists, including freeing pinned boats, rescuing swimmers, collecting stray gear, and EMS. On October 3rd, rangers responded to and assisted with a fatality that claimed the life of a 62-year-old Florida woman on a commercial rafting trip. Rangers were involved in hundreds of enforcement contacts, including drug and alcohol offenses, interference with agency functions, firearms, disorderly conduct, auto accidents, pet violations, sanitation/refuse violations, vandalism, traffic and parking, camping, and other public use violations. The 2008 season saw an additional challenge for park staff, who had to manage two recently-purchased properties at Masonâs Branch and Woodâs Ferry. These acquisitions created public river access points, take-outs, and boat launches on the upper and middle Gauley River for the first time in its 20- year history as an NPS unit.