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Dangerous River Condition notice posted for Boise River

Current Boise River flow rates are five times the median level for this time of year. The fire department warns conditions are "extremely dangerous" right now.

BOISE, Idaho — The Boise Fire Department has posted a "Dangerous River Condition" notice as the Boise River runs high and fast, with warm temperatures expected to accelerate mountain snowmelt over the weekend.

River flows were near 6,000 cubic feet per second early Monday afternoon, according to readings from the gauge at Glenwood Bridge, which is downstream from the traditional Barber-to-Ann Morrison float area. 

"That's a lot of water. It's extremely fast, it's very cold, there's debris in that water," Boise Fire Department Special Operations Division Chief Paul Roberts said. "Because of the rise in the water, it's creating diminished clearance, or less clearance, under the bridges of the Bose River." 

A flow rate of 6,000 cfs is four times what's considered safe for river floating. Float season typically begins in mid-June or early July.

Right now, the Boise Fire Dept. recommends that people not swim or play in the river, and keep pets leashed near the river so they don't chase after other animals and get swept into the swift water.

The fire department posted the dangerous conditions warning in coordination with Boise Police, Boise Parks and Recreation Department, Ada County Parks and Waterways, and other stakeholders, the fire department said Friday in a news release.

The posting, which will remain in effect until further notice, is due to the following hazards:

  • Swift water that can carry people and pets away rapidly
  • Cold water; even the best swimmer can become incapable of swimming in the event of hypothermia, which leads to loss of motor function and muscle control.
  • Debris that can injure people
  • Reduced clearance under bridges due to high water levels
  • Soft and unstable river banks.

Also, if flooding takes place, access to the river becomes more dangerous, if not impossible.

"We just say adhere to the signage if you're going to be on the Greenbelt," Boise Parks and Recreation Director Doug Holloway said. "Make sure that you are paying attention to detours that are there, and just enjoy a really safe experience whether you're on the Greenbelt or in the foothills."

At around 6,000 cfs, the Boise River is not at flood stage, which is 7,000 cfs.

"Although we are not at flood stage, we want the public to be aware of the dangers associated with increased Boise River flows, as our greatest concern is for the safety of the public and our first responders," Roberts said.

If you do see someone in trouble on the river, do not go into the water after them. Instead, the fire department said, call 911 immediately and provide the following information to the dispatcher:

  • How many people are in the water
  • Where they are located (nearest street, bridge crossing, park, side of the river or Greenbelt mile marker).

Under a Boise city ordinance, the city may impose a charge to recover its costs for responding to an emergency on the river in cases where first responders need to rescue people who have knowingly entered any area that has been closed to the public. The latest 

Also because of high water, some low-lying portions of the Boise River Greenbelt are closed. An interactive map, Greenbelt updates and other information are available here

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