This summer’s closure of Cache Bridge, together with the tremendous popularity of the Teton River, has placed a lot of pressure on the river’s other access points. It is therefore important that all river users understand a fundamental point of ramp etiquette: be ready to launch when you get on the ramp and get off as soon as possible. Several times each week, we launch or bring in a drift boat to a ramp. We have repeatedly had to wait for considerable periods of time while other users clog up the ramps with activities that should be done alongside the ramp, in the parking areas, or elsewhere. Blowing up inflatable rafts is a typical example. Organizing coolers is another. Giving instructions to a group of renters (yes, the river rental businesses need to read this) on how to use a paddle board would be on the list. We recently observed a dozen people sitting down to eat breakfast on the ramp! And when we have asked people nicely to move their activity to the side of the ramp so that we could back a trailer down, we have often been glared at as if WE are the problem!
Traditional users of the river (anglers, fishing guides, and canoeists) contribute to the maintenance of these access points by paying for fishing licenses, guide licenses, invasive species stickers, and special federal taxes on fishing equipment and tackle. Idaho Fish and Game uses these revenues to build and maintain access ramps, and strictly controls the number of licensed guides. In contrast, non-traditional users and commercial suppliers of paddle boards, kayaks, and rubber duckies are essentially unregulated, pay no fees to support ramp maintenance, and pay no fees to access the river. Given the impacts associated with skyrocketing non-traditional use of the Teton, it may be time for a little equity in the form of access fees and regulations – like those borne by anglers – on the newer users.
In the meantime, all River users must appreciate that each ramp is the “rate limiting step” in access to/egress from the river. We strongly recommend some signage on all the ramps reminding users to move on and off the ramp as quickly as possible. And businesses that rent equipment should provide guidance and serious instructions on ramp etiquette. A little commonsense and courtesy will go a long way to avoiding problems.
Jim Reinertsen, Alta
Bill Horn, Tetonia