BOISE – (July 3, 2023) – The 2023 float season on the Boise River has begun. Ninety-degree temperatures are enticing people to cool off in the river, and more people are floating non-traditional, lesser-known sections of the Boise River. Flood District #10 officials want to make sure river-floaters understand that they may encounter multiple, unforeseen hazards in those areas.
Please know that when you are floating the Boise River that “you are floating at your own risk, and you are responsible for your safety,” said Mike Dimmick, District Manager for Flood District #10.
Boating safety officials recommend that floaters should always wear a personal floatation device (PFD) when floating the Boise River.
Floaters should know that most of the Boise River has not been pre-scouted for hazards by the Boise Fire Department or other jurisdictions, officials said. Floaters can encounter multiple hazards in the river channel, including down trees, sharp objects hidden from view, irrigation diversions and other hazards in these lesser-known reaches of the Boise River, officials said.
Flood #10 in cooperation with the City of Eagle recently put up a warning sign on the South Channel of the Boise River near Eagle Road to alert floaters about downed trees known as “strainers” blocking the river flow and the river channel. Those particular hazards pose significant safety risks and must be avoided by floaters at all times, officials said.
“We encourage floaters who try unfamiliar reaches of the Boise River to pre-scout anything that looks dangerous, challenging or hazardous,” said Dimmick. “Pay attention to where you’re going. If you can’t see what’s coming ahead, get out of the river and take a look from shore, and if necessary, portage around the hazards with your float craft.
“When in doubt, get out and scout,” he said. “It’s always better to be safe, than sorry.”
Boise River Flood District #10 performs winter maintenance of the Boise River at low flow, November-March. “Flood District #10 is not responsible for managing the Boise River for safe floating,” he said.
By statute, the Flood District is responsible for mitigating flood risk and maintaining the river channel for winter/spring high flows. The District operates under Federal and State Permits that prevent District equipment from working in the river at flows greater than 500 cubic feet per second (cfs) at Glenwood Bridge. Summer flows typically average 1,000 to 1,300 cfs at that location.
The safest place for boaters to float is the 6-mile reach of the Boise River from Barber Park to Ann Morrison Park, officials said. This section of the river has established access points, raft and tube rentals, shuttle buses and other services. Managed by Ada County Parks and Waterways, this section is surveyed for hazards by the Boise Fire Department, Boise Parks and Recreation and Ada County prior to the opening of the float season.
Remember that the water in the Boise River is very cold, coming off the bottom of Lucky Peak Reservoir. If anyone is forced to remain in the water for an extended period of time, they could become hypothermic or drown.
Ada County Parks & Waterways has published a handy Floater Guide that provides a map of the Boise River from Barber Park to Ann Morrison Park, and other helpful information. The county also posts regular updates on its Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/FloatTheBoiseRiver.
Idaho Parks and Recreation also has safety tips and boating safety classes that floaters can take. See their boating safety page for more information.