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Whitewater Rafting Operators Pushing To Reopen Ahead Of Memorial Day Weekend

(CBS13) — Rafting operators are pushing the state to let them reopen by this weekend because, for them, timing is everything.

Sunday marks the traditional start to the rafting season, one that's already seen a long list of cancellations.

Worried a watered-down season could sink profits even more, those who cater to inflatable fun gave sent an urgent plea to state and county officials to let them open up as Memorial Day Weekend quickly approaches.

Equipment — oars, life jackets, helmets — has been sanitized, and since the whitewater rafts are big, they can be shared by strangers.

"Well, we can put two people in the front and then six feet back, and again, it's 14 to 16 feet long, put another two or four people that are in a group," Nate Rangel said.

With more than a hundred thousand people getting wet and wild down the south fork of the American River each season, operators know there's an appetite, especially now.

"I mean honestly, getting into the outdoors is a really good idea, it sure is a lot safer and a lot better for you than jumping into a mall," Rangel said.

READ ALSO: No Tourists Allowed: South Lake Tahoe Warning Tourists Could Be Fined $1,000

Hundreds of customers have already jumped out of their plans, canceling trips scheduled for March, April, and May. Heading into the busiest stretch of the season, for these companies, that promise of a rush of energy with every trip, energizes them to rush those rafts into place.

"The guides are ready to go, the rafts are ready to go, we've had a lot of time to get ready for this," Rangel said.

Question is, is the state ready to help keep these businesses above water?

Whitewater companies already have one victory this season, stopping PG&E from reducing the amount of water released from a local dam, that they say would have certainly killed their entire season.

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