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Our View: River run should focus on the rapids, not the nudity

Our View
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When you live in a region rich with natural beauty and plenty of recreational opportunities, it brings out all kinds of people seeking to recreate in their own way ? some a little more au naturale than others. Thanks to the opening of a new stretch of water on the American River available to rafters, more eyes are falling on a nude beach that?s tucked between two rock outcroppings about a half-mile from the confluence of the north and middle forks of the American River. While many have laid out in the buff at this beach for more than three decades, with the arrival of commerce, and more importantly, families, it?s time to cover up and sunbathe the normal way. Some interviewed by the Journal have said that they think the sunbathers should be allowed to be there, and that one of the reasons people come to areas such as the American River canyon is to be able to do things they can?t do in the city. We seem to forget, public indecency is public indecency ? no matter the setting. The not-so-secret beach might have been a nice destination for those seeking the nude bathing lifestyle, but now that tourists, and children, will be floating by in one of the eight rafting companies? boats that are allowed to float down this stretch of calm river ? again, ideal for families ? it?s time to shut it down. More enforcement is now needed by state parks officers to cite and escort those out who are breaking the law by sunbathing without some form of clothing on. In the past, nude sunbathers have not been a priority of the state parks officers as it may be hard to substantiate the claims, and getting to the scene in what is a remote spot can take some time. Despite park staff being stretched thin already, this segment of river where sunbathers congregate needs to be a priority now as rafting boats will be traveling by this area on a daily basis. The last thing most want to see when they?re taking their family from out of town on a rafting trip is a group of naked men on a beach (sunbathers in the area have been predominantly male). A question must also be raised to the rafting company operators. Should you tell your prospective clients, that yes, there is a good possibility that you will see nude sunbathers on your trip down the river today? This is a tough call for businesses, but the right one is to tell them they might see them. Better to give potential customers a heads up than have them demand their money back when they come across a scene they weren?t expecting when the signed on. The rafting operators should also be pushing for more enforcement. You don?t want stories to circulate from customers saying they floated right by a nude beach and will never go down that stretch of river again. Another potential problem? Our desire to share everything. All it takes is a 30-second video from an iPhone to be uploaded on YouTube or wherever highlighting this nude beach and the area could be known as a go-to place for all the wrong reasons, and be a black eye for the area. If sunbathers are seeking to be free of the constraints of clothes while enjoying nature, do it on private property, or join a club that offers facilities to do it. Let?s all enjoy Mother Nature?s beauty on public land ? with our clothes on.