White water sports are some of the most popular outdoor sports today. There are different types of white water sports including whitewater rafting, kayaking and canoeing. One of the reasons why white water sports are so popular is the adrenaline rush one feels in beating the odds—it’s a classic man vs. nature situation.
The Dangerous Environment of the White Water Sports
Although white water sports are popular, they come with certain dangers. Whitewater is generally classified according to the gradient or speed of the river based on the International Grading System. However, it must be understood that these classifications do not grade the white water river itself but the different whitewater sections of the river. This is why you will find rivers that have different classes. The classification varies from Class I, which is the safest and easiest, to Class VI, the most dangerous and difficult that requires experience and caution.
Because of the environment where white water sports are held, casualties are often to be expected. For whitewater with Class V and Class VI, where whitewater is huge and accompanied by rocks and drops, expertise and advanced whitewater experience is required. This is one of the reasons why most rafting or white water sport companies require expert guides for any trips.
You also have to remember that this sport is all about challenging nature, which can be quite unpredictable; that is why all white water guides are expected to undergo rigorous training on how to maneuver along the rapids. Moreover, safety measures and rescue training are needed.
The Sport and Its Effect on the Environment
Another concern that the white water sport sector is addressing are the effects to the environment. Just like any outdoor sport, white water sports can be a threat to the environment when not performed with respect to the natural habitat. Since 100 percent of the time is spent within nature, whether on river or on land, special attention is given to the protection of the environment where the rivers are located. There are some environmental issues associated with this sport, including the alteration of the river’s bed and the disturbance of animals living in and around the rivers, due to the presence of humans.
This is one the reasons why guides and companies encourage the “leave no trace” practice. This idea pertains to the minimal disruption of the environment during trips, as well as the importance of cleaning up once the courses are performed.
To combat the damages white water sports may have on the environment, some states have laws and regulations that protect these locations. Others have certain fees and fines against negligent sportsmen. Now, it is also common to find popular white water sport locations having restrictions on daily and annual operating times. Even the number of rafters is restricted to control the effect of this sport to the environment.
However, white water sport enthusiasts and rafting companies have been trying to contribute in protecting the environment by requiring environmental protection training and seminars, not only for their guides, but also for their guests.