04/24/2014 The Other Guy, Jeff Bryan

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Limiting capacity on river wrong idea

By Jeff Bryan

There’s a strong feeling among many folks that one of the best ways to protect the Rainbow River is to limit how many people can be allowed on the river.
It would certainly be a laudable goal, if it wasn’t such a misguided notion.
Imagine a family of four showing up at the gates of KP Hole only to be told: “Sorry, we’ve reached our limit today. Please come again.”
If the government can use taxpayer dollars to patrol the river, enforce rules, pump money into restoration plans, officials should be the last folks to tell the public they cannot use a resource at their pleasure.
However, it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t encourage and educate those recreational users about how best to protect such a wonderful resource. We should certainly research other alternatives, but simply telling folks the river is “closed” is absurd.
It sends a wrong message to visitors, that “this is our personal river,” please take your tourism dollars elsewhere.
It also begs the question, what if the public beats the property owners into the river? Does that mean those people who live along the Rainbow River are willing to abide by the capacity loads? Are you willing to forgo the enjoyment of the Rainbow River to make way for a family of young adventurers to enjoy this wonderful natural gem?
Not only would it dampen tourism, it would put a serious dent in a few businesses in town that offer kayak and canoe rentals. You don’t think business owners would be embarrassed to tout their services, transport folks to the KP Hole and be told, “sorry, we’re closed.” Would we place ropes along public boat ramps?
Folks, this isn’t Disney World, it’s Dunnellon.
Sure, Disney World can turn folks away, because it is a privately-owned theme park. The Rainbow River is a public waterway; owned by no private corporation or those who live along the river banks.
Honestly, I can envision scenes of “National Lampoon’s Family Vacation” where the Griswold family makes the cross-country trek to visit the Rainbow River, only to arrive while it was closed because it had reached its capacity limit for the day.
We shouldn’t limit folks who want to enjoy the Rainbow River. It’s as crazy as a theme park closing for repairs in the middle of the summer.