(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