BOISE -- We would normally be gearing up to throw our rafts and tubes into the Boise River in just a few short weeks, but unfortunately, not this year.
"We really are hopeful we can have a float season, but we just don't know," said Scott Koberg, director of Ada County Parks & Waterways.
With temperatures on the rise, cooling off in the river this time of year has been a long-standing Boise tradition. But because the Boise River levels are becoming more dangerous - now approaching 9,500 cubic feet per second (cfs) - playing anywhere near it isn't an option.
A bummer for many: Ada County officials say the staple summer pastime in Boise of putting in at Barber Park, leisurely floating down the river for a couple of hours, and ending Ann Morrison Park might not happen until very late in the summer- if at all. But the City of Boise, especially, offers other options where you can get that open water, natural experience.
"This is historic," Koberg told KTVB. "I don't know if we've reached the peak of what the river is going to reach this spring and early summer."
Due to that fact, officials say float season will not be kicking off in late June, like it typically does.
"We're well away from that this year. There's no way we're going to anticipate opening at all that early," Koberg said.
The Boise River must get down to below 1,500 cubic feet per second in order for float season to commence.
"9,500 cfs is a long way from where we even need to be at the very upper end so we've got a long ways to go," Koberg added. "All bets are off as far as what's to expect."
Float season could start late - around mid-July, or extremely late - near the end of July or early August, which would cut the season very short, since it wraps up on Labor Day each year.
"Or worse case scenario is we obviously are dealing with so much flooding that we can't have a float season whatsoever," Koberg said.
According to their data, Koberg says that would be a first time in history there's never been an official float season (when all Barber Park amenities are offered for floaters/rafters).
But for county personnel, float season is an afterthought because flooding along and near the river still persists and poses major concerns.
"It will certainly have an economic impact if folks can't do it. Fortunately for us, there are a ton of recreation opportunities in and around Ada County and the Treasure Valley," Koberg told KTVB.
For that open water experience in the City of Trees, you can head over to the brand new Esther Simplot Park or renovated Quinn's Pond; by the show of it, tons of locals and visitors are already taking advantage of both of those.
"Oh I don't know how many cars were making the circle and heading back out, there was just no parking," Boise resident Doneta Stephensen said about Esther Simplot Park over the weekend. "That's really the only place to go to be in the water that's safe now."
Boise Parks and Recreation wants to ensure everyone is safe, cautious and courteous out there.
"Three things that have already been occurring at both Quinn's Pond and Esther Simplot for those that are really enjoying that open water experience is dogs off leash- a problem, alcohol is a problem, and then being towed because you're parked in the wrong location - [also] a problem," Boise Parks & Recreation Director Doug Holloway told KTVB.
His message: follow all the park rules. In Esther Simplot Park, dogs are allowed must must be on leash; alcohol is prohibited at both (unless one has a reservation and permit); smoking is not allowed; and you must adhere to designated parking locations. Recreationists can also park at the College of Western Idaho parking lot on the corner of Whitewater Park Boulevard and Fairview Avenue; however, be aware that water is inundating some of the lot so there are limited spaces.
You can venture up to Lucky Peak Reservoir and Sandy Point Beach, as well as Eagle Island State Park when- and if- it opens back up. Roaring Springs, splash pads and several public pools all over the Treasure Valley in Boise, Meridian, Nampa and Caldwell are also places where you can cool off and enjoy the water. If you have a neighborhood pool, of course that is an option as well.
"The water is cold and fast and dangerous here so do not recreate on the river or near the river, but find an alternative," Koberg said.
Koberg says they never tell people "it is safe to float the river" because it is a natural experience and you are floating at your own risk. When they deem use the term safety, it means they have done everything they can with the Boise Fire Department to remove debris to allow a "novice float experience" to Ann Morrison Park.
He also says you could get cited and fined if you try launching from Barber Park before the river is opened up to users. As we have been reporting, if emergency personnel have to rescue you from the river, you will be cited for that.
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