(Jackson, Wyo.) – A recent river related fatality
on the Bridger-Teton National Forest in the Snake River Canyon has Forest
officials urging river enthusiasts to know their own skills abilities and
physical condition before venturing onto the Snake River.
According to the Bridger-Teton National Forest, the river flow is
abnormally low for this time of the season showing hazards that are not
normally present in most seasons. In fact, with river flows running at
around 4,280 CFS (cubic feet per second) the number of accidents the river
crew has responded to with the lower water level is higher than other
seasons at this time.
While the Snake River Canyon and the whitewater stretch is considered a
Class III river, it is not without inherent risks.
“We have had quite a few parties who’ve rented boats get into trouble.
Quite a few have been organized groups or Boy Scout groups from Utah and
Idaho," said Wild and Scenic River Manager David Cernicek. "There have been
medical evacuations, people who’ve lost their boats and paddles, and people
who just decided that their lives were important and abandoned their boats
and gear to hike out."
"Lots of times folks feel like they can save a few bucks by not going with
a professional outfitter, and sometimes those decisions cost the most," he
said. "On Saturday, we also had a commercial river guide pull a 2 year-old
child out of Lunch Counter Rapid that another party had chosen to bring
down the river with them."
Forest officials say that many incidents that occur on the whitewater
stretch of the Snake River never make it to the River Rangers for a
coordinated emergency response. That is because the expert outfitters and
guides oftentimes are there to instruct novice boaters what to do, where to
eddy out or, as in this incident, they quickly can identify where the
life-saving equipment is located along the river.
“We want people to enjoy the rafting opportunities on the Bridger-Teton,
but there is a necessary component of personal responsibility that must be
addressed. It is imperative that recreationists assess their skill level,
physical health and agility and experience and determine which section of
the river is most appropriate for their outing, or if they should be
utilizing a professional outfitter," said Cernicek.
*Feature Photo: Boats on the side of the Snake River. h/t Bridger-Teton
National Forest / Pitchengine Communities*