Stalemate beaches Darrington river-rafting business

DARRINGTON — Owners of a Darrington river-rafting business find themselves beached until the federal government is motoring at full throttle again.

Brian Pernick and his sister, Sarah, were in the process of obtaining a new use permit from the U.S. Forest Service to provide whitewater rafting and scenic float trips on the Sauk River.

But the agency shuttered its doors Oct. 1 when the partial shutdown of government began, leaving the owners of Adventure Cascades high and dry.

“Without (the permit), we cannot run any trips,” Brian Pernick said Monday.

Fortunately, early October is not a busy time for the two-year-old business, he said. Whitewater rafting is done and the next surge is expected in late October when demand picks up for float trips on the lower end of the river to see wintering bald eagles congregate.

“Right now, we’re looking to book those trips but we’re not hearing when we’ll get our permits,” he said. “It’s a headache. We’ve experienced a lot of growth. The fact that the shutdown is putting some challenges into the process of growing our business is unsettling.”

He shared his story with U.S. Rep. Suzan DelBene, D-Wash., whose 1st Congressional District includes Darrington. She is one of those Pernick took down the river in the spring.

“This obviously puts a lot of uncertainty on his business,” she said, noting outdoor recreation is an industry feeling the pain of the partially shuttered government.

She couldn’t offer him much hope on when the Forest Service might reopen. The Republican majority in the House and the Democrat majority in the Senate continue to be at odds on a deal.

“We’ve got to get government open,” DelBene said. “The impacts are real. It’s hurting our economy right now.”

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; jcornfield@heraldnet.com

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