Best Management Practices


The Best Management Practices (BMP) outlined in this document represents the most current standards, practices and codes of conduct for operating in river corridors in North America. The information used to assemble this document came from a careful review a variety of management tools used in some of the most remote and wild areas in Western Canada and the United States (see appendix 1 for a complete list).

The guiding spirit of this document is to ensure that the members of the BCROA operate to a standard that will ensure that each succeeding generation of traveler will be able to enjoy the wilderness, wildlife, archaeological and cultural resources of the Province of British Columbia for years to come. We will seek to minimize our impacts on the natural landscape and provide a model of stewardship for other user groups throughout the province.

This document will focus on BMP's in the following 5 categories:

  1. Site Impacts
  2. Wildlife Impacts and Interactions
  3. Cultural Impacts and Considerations
  4. Safety
  5. Etiquette


1 - Site Impacts

River Corridors and the riparian areas within them offer some of the most spectacular wilderness opportunities in the Province of British Columbia. Operating in these unique and fragile areas requires a heightened level of due diligence and care to ensure potential impacts are minimized and mitigated. Potential areas that could be impacted by commercial operations include but are not limited to: River put in and take outs, lunch sites, trails and campsites.

1.1 Human Waste

  • All solid waste is to be packed out and disposed of in a proper manner where pit toilets or other formal facilities are not present.
  • Avoid use of bleach, formaldehyde based or bacterial destroying chemicals.
  • Toilet paper should be burned in a hot fire or packed out.

1.2 Garbage and Wastewater

The guiding principle for all travel in river corridors is to leave no trace of your stay and passing. Members of the BCROA will strive to leave each camp, lunch spot and launch or take out area in better shape than they found it.

  • All trash must be carried out.
  • No trash is to be buried. Burning and burying are ineffective and inappropriate disposal methods.
  • A final sweep for garbage should be done prior to departing any site.
  • Grey water will be strained of solid debris and disposed of 100 feet or more from water sources.
  • All bathing and washing should occur 100 feet or more from the river.
  • Biodegradable soup should always be used.


1.3 Alterations to the Environment

Impacts in riparian areas occur quickly. If managed improperly high use areas can rapidly show signs of erosion and vegetation damage. Through careful planning, group management and forethought many of these impacts can be eliminated or minimized.

  • Lunch sites, take outs and campsites should utilize naturally hardened locations like sand and gravel bars whenever possible.
  • Established sites will be used whenever possible rather then impacting an untouched area.
  • Any hiking should take place on established trails. Shortcuts should be avoided.
  • Stones used for tent anchors and seating should be scattered after use. Only loose river rocks should be used.


1.4 Fires

Warming fires continue to be part of the British Columbia river experience. While these types of fires add to the intrinsic value of a river trip they need to be managed responsibly. All cooking on the river should take place on gas stoves with the unused fuel being packed out.

  • Avoid building excessively large fires.
  • A fire pan should be used for all campfires in the river corridor year round. If open fires are used small fire rings should be built on mineral soil. Once the fire is extinguished, fire rings should be disassembled and the scarred rocks thrown into the river.
  • Ashes are to be packed out or dumped into the main river current.
  • Large pieces of charred wood should not be left behind. They should be transported to the next camp and used or thrown into the main river current.
  • At remote wilderness sites surplus firewood should not be left in a pile. It should be either carried to the next camp sight or scattered along the high-water line.
  • Firewood should be gathered from drift piles. Only downed or dead trees should be used for firewood. Tree limbing of trees should be avoided if possible.


2 - Wildlife Impacts and Interactions

Wildlife viewing is an intricate part of any river experience. BCROA members will strive to provide wildlife viewing opportunities for their guests while minimizing the intrusion and the extent of disturbance to animals.

2.1 Education

The education of clients and guests remains one of the most useful and powerful tools for managing and mitigating impacts on wildlife. Pre-trip information packages and pre-trip briefing interpretative talks provide an important venue for outlining proper behaviour and expectations while on trip.

  • When traveling in bear habitat guests should be given a thorough "Bear Aware" talk.
  • Guests should be informed not to feed wildlife.


2.2 Wildlife Viewing and Interactions

As mentioned, wildlife viewing is an intricate part of any river experience. As such, it is important that a conservative approach be taken in regards to any interactions and encounters to ensure the long term viability of this important resource.

  • Be aware of animals "comfort zones" and keep a respectful distance and avoid stressing the animals. Spotting Scopes and Binoculars should be used when possible.
  • Remain alert to bear signs and activities and be sensitive to bear travel routes and behaviour patterns.
  • Keep a clean camp and avoid habituating bears and other animals.
  • All food and waste should be kept in tightly sealed containers located away from camp or in "Bear Hangs".
  • Guides should limit time spent in bird nesting areas and salmon spawning grounds and attempt to minimize disturbance or displacement.


2.3 Recording and Reporting

In an attempt to assist wildlife management agencies BCROA members will gather and share any information obtained throughout the operating season.

  • Any wildlife sightings or observations will be recorded in the company's trip log or expedition records. The information will be passed on to the appropriate agency at the end of the operating season.
  • Sites where problems occur between wildlife and people will be reported immediately and the information shared with the other operators in the area.


3 - Cultural Impacts and Considerations

The BCROA acknowledges and respects First Nations concerns regarding visitors to cultural and archaeological sites throughout British Columbia. As such, special care will be taken while operating in areas of known cultural significance.

3.1 Cultural Sites

  • All guides and guests will be instructed not to disturb, dig or disrupt any archaeological sites. Cultural artefacts will not be touched or removed from any site.
  • Camping at significant cultural sites will be avoided whenever possible.
  • If operators or guests come across any unknown sites or artefacts of cultural significance they will be reported to the proper management agency.

3.2 Archaeological Impact Studies

  • Operators will be flexible and work with LWBC and First Nations to identify and mitigate any potential impacts identified through the AIS process.

4 - Safety

River travel in British Columbia can take place in a rigorous and demanding environment. Extreme weather, turbulent whitewater, changing river volumes and cold water temperatures can all contribute to hazardous conditions. Recognizing this, BCROA members will aim to operate at a level far higher than the accepted industry safety standards.

4.1 River Rafting Standards

  • All operators shall comply with the applicable sections of the "River Rafting Standards" or the Boating Restriction Regulations, Canada Shipping Act.
  • Additionally, all operators will comply with the recommendations laid out in the Special Provisions established by the BC Registrar of Commercial Rafting and currently managed by the BCROA.
  • Companies will record and communicate hazards and unsafe conditions to other operators as they are required


BCROA hopes that by applying the BMP's laid out in this document that their members will continue to be responsible stewards for the river corridors within the province and that by leading by example we can set a standard in which the public and other operators will want to attain.

5.1 Interaction with the Public

  • Operators will avoid disrupting or hindering public use of crown land.
  • Parties that "leap frog" each other should attempt to communicate and work out their respective schedules.
  • Positive, respectful interaction between groups will be attempted at all times.

5.2 Interaction with other Operators

  • Whenever practical, operators are encouraged to coordinate departure and arrival times at put in and take outs and campsite use in advance.
  • All operators will cooperate and communicate in a friendly and professional manner with each other and other parties.

5.3 Recording and Reporting

  • Operators are encouraged to record and report any destructive or damaging behaviour by the public or other operator on crown land.
  • Any non-tenured commercial activity is to be reported to LWBC.

Appendix 1


Colorado River Management Plan: Grand Canyon National Park. (1989) Grand Canyon National Park.

Environmental & Safety Standards and Ethics: Expeditions on the Tatshenshini and Alsek Rivers. (1996) Ottawa: Parks Canada.

Floaters Guide 2003: Hells Canyon National Recreation Area. (2003) Idaho: USDA Forest Service.

Gwaii Haanas Code of Conduct for Tour Operators. Gwaii Haanas Code of Conduct Working Group.

Management Plan Schedule & Agreement: For Guided River Rafting in Mt. Robson and Rearguard Falls Provincial Park and the Fraser River. (2004) Prince George, BC Parks.

Wilderness Tourism Association: Code of Conduct. (2002) Gibson: BC Wilderness Tourism Association.

Wild and Scenic Snake River: Recreation Management Plan. (1999) Idaho/Oregon: USDA Forest Service.

Fast Fact

Rafting trips are one of the best places to spot wildlife. Valley bottoms have some of the best habitat and are the easiest travel routes, especially in mountainous areas. Plus, the river’s currents, rapids and twists and turns disperse human sounds and smells and keep people out of view. So, it’s no surprise that you’re more likely to see wildlife on a rafting trip than on a hiking trail.

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