Boise River debris adding to float season delay

The debris still needs to be cleared before float season.

BOISE - With the temperature hovering around 100 degrees again today, you may be asking if the Boise River is ready for floating.

The good news: the river is flowing slower and lower than we've seen in a long time -- about 1,800 cubic feet per second, just above average for this time of year.

But this spring's flooding has left a lot of dangerous debris in the river.

A Boise Fire Department boat crew spent the afternoon surveying the river between Barber and Ann Morrison parks to see what needs to be removed. And KTVB tagged along for the ride.

It was pretty messy in some parts of the river, especially closer to Ann Morrison Park. The fire department definitely has their hands full.

Some trees are lying really low, close to the water and others have been completely uprooted.

All of this debris has to be cleared and water levels still need to drop about another 500 cfs before float season can begin.

“Tree limbs, entire trees, there's root balls that are buried under the water, those things are extremely hazardous for the floating season; people become very quickly enwrapped in those, taken under water and then turns into a catastrophic drowning event,” said Boise Fire Chief Paul Roberts, Division of Special Operations.

Roberts says cleanup is going to be a pretty arduous task after risks are identified.

“It involves cutting of entire trees, cutting trees that are down into smaller pieces, and in some cases more extreme, it looks like entire trees will have to be removed out of the water, which is a pretty big effort because it requires specialized heavy equipment,” said Roberts.

To get the work done, the Boise Fire Department is teaming up with other organizations including Boise Parks and Recreation, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game and the Division of Forestry.

In addition to cleanup, another safety element is water levels. Right now, the river is flowing at 1,840 cfs and will have to drop to 1,500 cfs before anyone can get their rafts and tubes out.

“Even though it might look okay, it’s super hot out I get it, it's not the place right now, we need to get out there and do our job to mitigate all those hazards before the public gets to it,” said Roberts.

“I know it's going to take a lot more effort than it has done in the past to open this river, so I would just say to the public when you hear from us that it’s open, it will be ready to go.”

A lot of us are anxious to get out and float but Roberts says safety is top priority right now, not just for the public but also for emergency responders, if someone has to rescued or anything that could go wrong out there.

© 2017 KTVB-TV


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