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Whitewater rafting firms wrestle to remain afloat throughout coronavirus pandemic

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RINCONADA, N.M. — COVID-19 has some companies looking forward to the autumn and winter to hopefully make up for misplaced gross sales. Nonetheless, some seasonal jobs, like whitewater rafting, depend on summer time success, and it seems many all through the Southwest are all caught in the identical boat.

“It’s been a anxious season, you understand? It’s exhausting, not solely following all of the protocols and attempting to maintain folks secure, however simply understanding that there’s threat in all of this,” Matthew Gontram, proprietor of New Mexico River Adventures, informed Fox Information.”There’s threat each time you permit your home.”


Like many others, Gontram’s enterprise has hit tough waters, dropping out on most of its season and gross sales due to the coronavirus. “We’re operating at about 25% of our capability. We’re the biggest river firm in New Mexico and we’re proper round 25%.”

New Mexico River Adventures is back open, disinfecting every surface and piece of equipment. But it's running at around 25% capacity to follow proper social distancing guidelines and keep rafters safe.

New Mexico River Adventures is again open, disinfecting each floor and piece of kit. But it surely’s operating at round 25% capability to observe correct social distancing pointers and hold rafters secure. (Stephanie Bennett/Fox Information)

New Mexico River Adventures, positioned alongside the Rio Grande, managed to squeeze in a couple of days of enterprise when the season opened in March, earlier than closing till June.

“We had been shocked we opened, actually. We had been very shocked. You understand, Texas and Oklahoma and Arizona and another states had opened two weeks earlier than us, proper earlier than Memorial Day. And as June 1 got here up, it was actually final minute and we had been shocked. Moreover, we had been shocked that the governor didn’t select to close us down,” mentioned Grontram.

Just a few miles south, over at Santa Fe Rafting Co., the sudden reopening in June meant they didn’t have time to rent new employees.

“By the point we obtained the OK, to get open … [conditions were] able to put folks on the river, so there was no time for trainings,” mentioned proprietor Jared McClure.

Santa Fe Rafting Co. owner Jared McClure prepares rafts for the next trip. They clean all equipment and set it aside for 24-48 hours before the next use.

Santa Fe Rafting Co. proprietor Jared McClure prepares rafts for the following journey. They clear all gear and set it apart for 24-48 hours earlier than the following use. (Stephanie Bennett/Fox Information)

By working with rafting firms throughout the southwest, the enterprise got here up with a reopening plan. A plan which included limiting shuttle capability to 50%, maintaining it to 1 raft per household, cleansing each piece of kit after which setting that gear apart for 48 hours.

Matthew Gontram, owner of New Mexico River Adventures, demonstrates the business' new cleaning procedures, which include dunking life jackets into a cleaning solution and setting them aside for 48 hours.

Matthew Gontram, proprietor of New Mexico River Adventures, demonstrates the enterprise’ new cleansing procedures, which embrace dunking life jackets right into a cleansing resolution and setting them apart for 48 hours. (Stephanie Bennett/Fox Information)

“It was actually enjoyable to reconnect with quite a lot of previous pals and outfitters from totally different states everywhere in the nation and see what everyone was doing and actually work collectively. As a result of we needed to, we didn’t have a alternative. And to actually give you a method we will make this all work as safely as potential,” mentioned Grontram.

Rafting firms say they’re nonetheless seeing a excessive quantity of curiosity, as folks need to head outdoor.

Rafting companies say they can typically run their seasons through October, but the pandemic is forcing them to wrap up early in September.

Rafting firms say they’ll sometimes run their seasons via October, however the pandemic is forcing them to wrap up early in September. (Stephanie Bennett/Fox Information)

“Our numbers are most likely at about 30-40% of what we sometimes do in a season… Now we have been in a position to get quite a lot of locals out, which is superior,” mentioned McClure.

“It’s very nice to see folks taking quite a lot of correct steps and precautions to sluggish the unfold,” added rafter Alexander Thomas.


There are comparable rafting protocols in Colorado, however in Texas, the exercise is flat-out banned. And over in Arizona, rafting is OK, however tubing leases are off-limits.

“I’ve by no means gone whitewater rafting. I simply wished to exit and expertise one thing new with my pals…simply being cooped up inside has been actually robust, so you understand, something you are able to do to be with family and friends and stuff is simply very nice,” mentioned Thomas.

Rafting companies tell Fox News that they've never seen the rivers so busy. People are tired of staying indoors and want to head outside in the fresh air.

Rafting firms inform Fox Information that they’ve by no means seen the rivers so busy. Individuals are uninterested in staying indoors and need to head exterior within the contemporary air. (Stephanie Bennett/Fox Information)

Though they’re working with a restricted capability and a shortened season, New Mexico rafters say they’re grateful to be again on the water.

“I’ve by no means seen our public lands extra full of individuals in autos and vacationers, guests, hikers, rafters, whatnot… than these previous couple of months,” mentioned Grontram. “I imply, persons are spending time exterior, and whitewater rafting is a good way to get your adrenaline repair, and exit and see our stunning pure assets,” mentioned Grontram.

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