Kings River Expeditions facing short season due to drought

FRESNO COUNTY (KFSN) -- The unprecedented drought in California is now forcing some outdoor enthusiasts to rethink their summer plans.

In the valleys of the Sierra National Forest a dramatic image of a river that once flowed abundantly into Pine Flat Lake.

Upstream -- the rapids are small -- and a company that relies on big waves isn't doing well.

"This is a record low. Everyone is talking about new territory. We're just taking it a day at a time," said Justin Butchert. He owns Kings River Expeditions -- a river rafting company. But with no snow pack in the Sierra, the water level in the Kings River is far below ideal.

"It's all a measure of cubic feet per second and right about now it's about 500 cubic feet per second on a normal year we get up to 10,000 cubic feet per second," said Trevor Wright.

What normally takes about two hours is now taking them about three because the water level is slow low and the current is so slow.

River guide Trevor Wright said there is some good news thanks to low flows and water levels beginners of nearly all ages can take a ride.

"We kind of have to say no we want them to be 13-years-old now we're taking out six year olds," said Wright.

Typically the rafting season lasts through the end of August. But because of the worst drought in recent history they'll likely have to close up shop by May, Wright said, even though they just started their season only two weeks ago.
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