Responsible tourism: Family rafting vacation on the Salmon River, Idaho, USA
Since our beginning we have been committed to protecting the environments in which we work. At our main office we do all we can to minimize our use of resources and we reduce, recycle, reuse, repurpose as much as possible. On our actual trips, we use very little energy. We transport our guests from our meeting points to the river by van or bus. Once the trip begins, we are human-powered as the river carries our rafts downstream. The only fossil fuels we use on the trip is the propane used for our cook stoves. Along the way we practice “Leave No Trace” camping principles and carry out all human waste, all garbage and the ashes from our evening campfires. We also strain our dishwasher for any particles before we disperse it well above the high water line. At our first lunch we explain these practices to our guests so that they may also follow them during the trip.
A highlight for our guests is viewing wildlife along the way and thus we are extremely sensitive and make sure that we do not disturb the wildlife. We sometimes see river otters playing with their young and we keep our rafts as far away as possible while enjoying this sight. Most wildlife is shy by nature, so avoiding too much influence is not difficult. We are also very active in the efforts to save Idaho’s wild salmon and steelhead from extinction.
We actively support various conservation groups. Our company’s founder and president is on the Board of Directors of Idaho Rivers United, our statewide river conservation group. We also support a national river conservation group called American Rivers. We have been actively involved in the national effort to get this section of the Salmon River protected under the United States Wild & Scenic Rivers Act. We make a point of educating our guests about the challenges facing the Salmon River environment and make it easy for them to contribute through our voluntary “pass through” donation program.
Whenever possible we use local suppliers who share our conservation ethic and responsible travel principles. As a small example, we source our coffee from a local roaster who makes a special blend from Fair Trade, shade-grown coffee called “Save Our Salmon” and a portion of the profits goes to support the efforts to protect the salmon of the Pacific Northwest of the United States.
We are a local Idaho company that runs a number of whitewater rafting trips in our home state of Idaho. While Idaho is the 13th largest state in the United States, we have only 1.4 million inhabitants. Some 69% of the state is publicly owned, with the majority designated as National Forest and Bureau of Land Management lands. Few states have more to offer in terms of outdoor recreation and we are quite involved in our state’s tourism efforts. Rafting and other outdoor adventures in Idaho are an important and integral part of our state’s economy, especially in small, rural communities from where we base our trips. Our business brings people from all over the world and we spread their economic influence through the many local businesses that we work with as well as with our employees. Our employees in turn make a positive contribution to our local towns and communities.
Before and after our trips, our guests stay in locally-owned hotels and motels and eat at local restaurants we recommend. They often add additional days to their core vacation with us, spending money with other services and accommodations.
Our employees are fairly compensated and we offer them the opportunity for continual education and learning. Each year we run special training trips for our guides, helping them improve their skills, particularly in the area of natural and cultural history interpretation. We take key members of our office staff to national association conventions where they have the opportunities for professional development and the ability to network with others in the adventure travel business.
We are involved in our local community’s Chamber of Commerce and our founder is on the Board of the local Visitors and Convention Bureau. We are particularly proud of our contributions to local charity groups and each year we donate over $15,000 in goods and services to a wide variety of groups. In addition we operate two annual “Raft for the Cure” trips that each raise between $1,000 and $5,000 for our local chapters (Spokane and Coeur d’Alene) of “Susan G. Komen for the Cure.” Another issue that is dear to our hearts is finding a cure for Alzheimer’s disease and so each year we run a benefit trip for our local chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association that is called "Raft to Remember" and typically raises over $1000.
Our mission is “Sharing Nature – Enriching Lives” and we try to live this every day in all we do.