Colorado Plateau River Guides has filed for non-profit status a year after the new leadership revived the organization. Originally founded in 1993, the organization lost steam and eventually dissolved by 2006. Last February, however, initiatives by river guides Israel Garcia, Lars Haarr, Sarah Sidwell and Casey Montandon reinstated the mission and outreach potential of CPRG.
The organization aims to provide support to river guides in the Moab area through physical and mental health counseling, community outdoor event volunteering, and training trips accompanied by rangers, geologists and authors.
“I think it’s an important thing that we need in Moab at the time, especially with how much change is going on right now with the growth of the industry,” Garcia said. “I got in touch with John Weisheit and asked what it took to get CPRG up and going, then I contacted a few people who were well known in the river industry and invited them to join their skill set in getting the organization going again.”
Since the reformation of CPRG the group has spent the first year prioritizing their goals and redefining their current mission. With the start of the 2018 river season, a few initiatives will be put into motion to start their outreach program.
River guides are expected to inform their customers about the history and geology of each canyon they run. The largest event put in motion for this season is meant to better equip guides from multiple companies with accurate knowledge of Westwater Canyon. Canyon Voyages has partnered with CPRG by providing boats and permits for the two-day trip, which is set to launch on April 18 featuring guest rangers, geologists, archeologists, as well as Westwater Lost & Found author Mike Milligan. Guides will get a chance to run the canyon with a living library and focus on learning instead of repeating the same stories they’ve heard again and again from previous guides. “We’ve also been working with the hospital to get skin cancer screenings for guides,” Garcia said. “Every spring there is a dermatologist conference at Red Cliffs Lodge. We’re looking to create a four-hour session where guides can get a skin screening from professional dermatologists at a discount ... and we’ll have the paperwork arranged for them.”
The organization will also provide river guides with services offered by the Moab Free Health Clinic, as well as mental health professionals in the area to help deal confidentially with stress and burnout that are part of the industry’s overtime summer tourist rush.
CPRG will be sharing their resources and fundraising through memberships and a gear sale at the Eddyline boat swap on May 5. For more information visit riverguides.org.