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Boise River floaters warned of dangers

Posted: 11:44 AM, Jul 17, 2019
Updated: 2019-07-17 13:44:54-04

BOISE — Officials are noticing quite a few people have been floating non-traditional, lesser-known sections of the Boise River that present multiple, unforeseen hazards.

Floaters are being warned that “you are floating at your own risk, and you are responsible for your safety,” said Mike Dimmick, Project Manager for Flood District No. 10.
Floaters should know that most of the Boise River has not been pre-scouted for hazards by the Boise Fire Department or other jurisdictions, officials said.

Floaters can encounter multiple hazards in the river
channel, including downed trees, sharp objectives hidden from view, irrigation diversions, and other hazards in these lesser- known reaches of the Boise River, officials added.

Boating safety experts recommend that floaters should always wear a personal floatation device (PFD) when floating the Boise River. “We encourage floaters who try unfamiliar reaches of the Boise River to pre-scout anything that looks dangerous, challenging or hazardous,” said Dimmick. “Pay attention to where you’re going. If you can’t see what’s coming ahead, get out of the river and take a look from shore, and if necessary, portage around the hazards with your float craft. In other words, when in doubt, get out and scout,” he said. “It’s always better to be safe, than sorry.”

Flood District #10 is not responsible for managing the Boise River for safe floating, Dimmick pointed out.

By statute, the Flood District is responsible for mitigating flood risk and maintaining the river channel for winter/spring high flows. The District operates under Federal and State Permits that prevent District equipment from working in the river at flows greater than 500 cubic feet per second (cfs) at Glenwood Bridge. Summer flows average 1,000 to 1,300 cfs
at that location.

The safest place to float is the six-mile reach of the Boise River from Barber Park to Ann Morrison Park, officials said. This section of the river has established access points, raft and tube rentals, shuttle buses, and other services. This section of the river, managed by Ada County Parks and Waterways, is surveyed for hazards by the Boise Fire Department, Boise Parks and Recreation, and Ada County prior to the opening of the float season.

Floaters are also reminded that water in the Boise River is very cold, coming off the bottom of Lucky Peak Reservoir. If anyone is forced to remain in the water for an extended period, they could become hypothermic or drown.

Ada County Parks and Waterways has published a 2019 Floater Guide that provides a map of the Boise River from Barber Park to Ann Morrison Park, and other helpful information. The county also posts regular updates on its Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/FloatTheBoiseRiver

Idaho Parks and Recreation also has safety tips and boating safety classes that floaters can take. See their boating safety page for more information.

(photo courtesy: Steve Stuebner)