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Raft companies on the Payette River prepare for opening weekend

Posted at 3:35 PM, May 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-14 19:53:22-04

BANKS, Idaho — Three different generations of the Long spend their summers running Cascade Raft & Kayak, an adventure business on the banks of the Payette River.

They are used to overcoming challenges. Last year they helped the Garden Valley Fire Department remove dangerous logs from the South Fork of the Payette River.

This year COVID-19 is creating a different kind of challenge as Cascade Raft & Kayak prepares to open on Saturday, May 15.

"We will have groups of ten or fewer to maintain social distancing," said operations manager Kenneth Long. "The guides are all up to speed on the protocols with cleaning gear and making sure buses get wiped down before and after trips.

Long tells us that only small friend groups or families should show up for rafting, at this time, they can't take individuals or mix groups together for social distancing reasons.

Cascade Raft & Kayak will also use their large rafts and space people out in the boat while leaving seats open to attempt to create that six-feet distance.

"We have been very anxious to get outside as much as possible, and we are really excited to engage in the rafting season," said Long.

It was a relief for this seasonal business to be able to open as the Long family worried about their guides as most of them go from seasonal work in the summer to seasonal work in the ski industry during the winter.

"They got cut short this ski season," said Long. "A lot of our staff is dependent on these next couple of months for their livelihoods."

Cascade Raft & Kayak also provides kayaking lessons, a sport that is very easy to social distance while doing.

They also have ropes courses, zip lines, and they open all of it on a limited basis this weekend.

Bear Valley Raft Company has already had trips available for people, this is another popular rafting company located at the Banks intersection on Highway 55.

Usually, rafting season doesn't hit high gear until Memorial Day Weekend, and Kenneth Long tells us he hopes the pandemic will slow down during the summer in hopes of returning to some degree of normality when the Governor deems it safe.