Idaho's Secret Sauce
Preamble & Introduction
Please Read Before You Begin!
In a world affected by COVID-19, what could be more alluring and therapeutic than the wilds of Idaho’s rivers, lakes, mountains, deserts and backcountry? With a nation poised for reopening, many folks are looking to Idaho outfitters and guides to be their conduit to escape the “Shelter in Place” of the past few months. Many have plans which have been booked and looked forward to for years in advance. Many others are just beginning to make plans, switching from plans to travel out of the country, to enjoying the relative safety and beauty of staying within the U.S.
O-19 is a lead work group of the Idaho Outfitters and Guides Association, with the mission of creating a pathway for Idaho outfitters to operate according to their plans and as seamlessly as possible during these very unique times. O-19 has developed the following informational tool for Outfitters to use to better build a plan of operation for themselves and their business. This tool is a culmination of endless research, conversations and meetings with experts, directors, administrators, operators, and internal industry discussions and feedback, on topics ranging from washing hands, PPE usage, air taxis , busses, evacuations, navigating local health clinics, wilderness social distancing, camp hygiene, port-of-entry testing, industry liability immunity, and on and on.
There is no way for Outfitters to operate without risk. We are all very aware of those risks generally associated with outfitting and addressed in our Acknowledgment of Risk forms or liability waivers provided to our guests. Viral risk at the level posed by the Covid-19 definitely adds new challenges to an Outfitter’s operation. But just as in the case with our formerly accepted risks, we will need to move forward with individual plans that allow our businesses to best mitigate the risks of Covid-19. Our options are essentially no different than they ever have been. We either choose to operate under a plan of mitigated risk, or not operate at all. This tool is meant to help you develop your own plan by providing you with information generated from those countless conversations, meetings, and research stated above, identifying helpful sources, providing viable options, identifying red flags and pitfalls. This is by no means meant to be a directive to Outfitters or any sort of “Standard of Operation” for Outfitting, nor is it considered legal advice. You should consider all your planning decisions carefully. Address them with your legal team, your permit administrator(s), your insurance representative(s) and anyone else who may have oversight or managing authority over you and your business.
There will be portions of our individual plans that will need to mimic those that we operate in concert with when necessary. e.g. boat ramps, trailheads, mutual gathering sites, administration, mass transit, backcountry air travel, etc. But once alone in the great outdoors of Idaho, we should be left to operate, responsibly and independently, as we see fit and as is reflected in our individual plans of operation.
If ever there was a “Work in Progress,” This is it! Two statements will ultimately define Covid-19: (1) Wash your hands, and (2) I don’t know. They may be the only two statements that pass the test of time. Bear in mind, that a group of volunteer Outfitters spent a couple of very busy weeks to initiate this evolving tool for you. It will be everyone’s job to enhance it and perpetuate it. When you find something missing, fill in the blank. When something is incomplete, enhance it. If you see an improvement, provide it.
O-19 was also formed to harness the unified voice of Idaho outfitters and guides, Idaho’s small outfitting communities and counties and our clients to better communicate with and persuade the powers that be that Idaho’s outfitted excursions are necessary for all parties concerned, and can be performed with manageable safety measures to reasonably mitigate the risks to socially acceptable standards.