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Experts predict an "outstanding year" for whitewater enthusiasts

Posted: 5:53 PM, May 22, 2018
Updated: 2018-05-22 19:53:11-04
Experts predict an "outstanding year" for whitewater enthusiasts

A lot of snow in the mountains this winter is making for what experts are calling “an outstanding year” for whitewater boating, floating, and jet boat trips in many parts of the state.

In central Idaho, the Salmon River and Middle Fork Salmon River have near-normal snowpack, which will provide near-normal runoff this summer -- and excellent family-friendly flows into the summer months.

“The Payette River is going to be fun -- like always -- even with the slightly-below-normal snow that fell this winter. This is because the Payette Reservoir system is 96% full today,” said USDA water Supply Specialist Ron Abramovich.

“Reservoir releases from Deadwood and Cascade will be made to meet the irrigation demands for the farmers in the valley -- and will also meet the river runners needs by providing great rafting flows levels after the peak flows come down,” he added. “(We’ll see) a long river-running season on the Payette River all summer.” 

As for the Boise River, even with below-normal snowfall this winter, the Boise Reservoir system is 98% full. “Wow, this is a lot different than last year, when they were passing the abundant water through town with flows of 8,000 cubic feet per second,” Abramovich noted. “For this year, both the below normal snowfalls and nearly-full reservoirs means the power boaters will be able to put their boats on Lucky Peak soon -- and the tubers floating thru town will not have to wait as long to get their feet wet this year.” 

The Bruneau River is having the last increase for the season right now, unless more rains come soon. “The river-running season was very short, as you typically need flow above 800 cfs or even 1000 cfs to take your raft down the Bruneau River,” he pointed out.

However, experts say the Owyhee rafting season is over, since river-users need flows greater than 800-1000 cfs. “The mid-March peak of 2400 cfs was very flashy, too fast to really plan a trip around. While in 2017, the Owyhee River was runnable from mid-Feb to mid-June,” said Abramovich.