Nature plunged many trees into Oregon rivers and streams this winter – a good thing for fish but a risk for paddlers, rafters and tubers. Some of these obstructions will become more dangerous as river levels drop, requiring people to portage around obstructions.
“We urge ever boater to plan ahead, prepare carefully, check the online resources, and scout each section of river before boating through it,” said Randy Henry, Boating Safety Manager for the Marine Board. “Life jackets are crucial, but may not help if a boater gets entangled in a submerged tree.” Henry urges the following precautions:
To help plan a trip, visit the Marine Board’s obstruction page to see where there are reported obstructions. The list is not comprehensive: scout each section of river before committing. When in doubt – scout and portage out. Stay clear of partially submerged trees and limbs. Strong currents can quickly carry you in, potentially leading to capsizing and entrapment.
Wear a life jacket. Given the water temperature, boaters are encouraged to wear a properly fitting life jacket on the outside of their cold weather attire if boating during the cooler morning hours. Be sure to dress for the water temperature, not the air temperature.
Boat with others and stay within sight of one another. Do not separate very far so you can respond quickly for help. Know your limits and how to self-rescue. Be sure your skills and experience are equal to the river and the conditions.
Fill out a float plan and print out a copy to let others know where you are boating and when to expect your return. Check out the Marine Board’s Paddling Oregon Safely brochure for more information. Visit boatoregon.com for everything you need to know about recreational boating in Oregon.