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Raft raffle brings in waves of money

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Photo by Tamie Meck Patrick Dooling, center, and Alex Johnson, left, with the Western Slope Conservation Center watch as a blindfolded John Welfelt rolls up his sleeves for drawing the winning raffle ticket for the Hyside raft, oars and custom frame.

Lisa Niermann of Paonia is the lucky winner of a new Hyside Mini-Max raft. The raft, which included a set of Cataract oars and a custom oar frame was raffled off by the Western Slope Conservation Center. The setup is valued at over $4,000.

Welfelt Fabrication sponsored the raffle. Owner John Welfelt, a river runner himself, has been a member of WSCC since it began in the late 1970s as the North Fork River Improvement Association.

For running rivers, "It's one of the most popular boats for a good reason," said Welfelt of the Hyside. The boat is easy to maneuver, great for running low water or Class 5 water (with a good oarsman). And it's small enough that it can be slightly deflated to fit in the back of a pickup, and compact enough to fit in a passenger car or rolled up and packed down into the Gunnison Gorge. "For this area it's really a good boat."

WSCC is dedicated to public lands advocacy, education, and stewardship of watersheds. Executive director Alex Johnson said that the 500 raffle tickets sold -- 300 of them at Cherry Days alone, raised $8,840 for WSCC. For all those who didn't win, said Johnson, "We will be doing this again next year."

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