Nilsson: “I’ve been a river guide since 1995 here on the Kern River, and it’s typically a very fantastic, water-filled channel that brings tremendous joy and excitement to everybody that rides the waves.”

That’s Darron Nilsson. His company offers white water rafting adventures in southern California, but this year, the river is so low from the ongoing drought, he never opened for business.

Scientists warn droughts are likely to become more common with climate change. But Nilsson says he and others on the river are clinging to hope.

Nilsson: “I think we’re all hoping that maybe it’s not happening just yet, that this is just a cyclical drought and that Mother Nature still has a lot of snow left for us.”

And in the meantime – he and other businesses are just trying to survive.

Nilsson: “Even though we are in a serious drought condition and the water is extremely different than what we’re used to, it’s not gone, and it’s still there to be enjoyed.”

Nilsson says staying closed for the season is a short-term solution, and he’s exploring new adventures – not so dependent on water – that he can offer next year. And if the drought continues and the Kern River never fully recovers?

Nilsson: “That would be a huge loss for all of us.”

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media.
Images source: River’s End Rafting & Adventure Company on Facebook.

More Resources
Up a Creek? What California’s Drought Means for River Sports
On the depleted Kern River, rafting companies look to ride out the drought
River’s End Rafting & Adventure Company website
Kern River Festival

Diana Madson

Diana Madson has been a regular correspondent with Yale Climate Connections since April 2014. She enjoys exploring American stories about unexpected and innovative solutions to climate change. In addition...