Floaters: Watch out for unforeseen hazards on Boise River

New Dry Creek irrigation diversion, downstream from Glenwood Bridge

Contact: Steve Stuebner, Media contact for Flood District #10, 208-484-0295

BOISE – (July 12, 2021) – The 2021 float season is kicking into high gear. Triple-digit temperatures are enticing people to cool off in the Boise River. More people continue to float non-traditional, lesser-known sections of the Boise River, and Flood District #10 officials want to make sure river-floaters understand that they may encounter multiple, unforeseen hazards.  

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 No. 10.

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.

Boating safety officials recommend that floaters should always wear a personal floatation device (PFD) when floating the Boise River.

“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.”

“Flood District #10 is not responsible for managing the Boise River for safe floating,” Dimmick points out.

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 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. This section of the river, managed by Ada County Parks and Waterways, is surveyed for hazards by the Boise Fire Department, Boise Parks and Recreation and Ada County prior to the opening of the float season. Ada County Parks & Waterways posts regular updates on its Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/FloatTheBoiseRiver.

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. In addition, large trees can fall into the river at any time, creating a hazard for people floating the river. Be sure to stay away from "strainers" that have fallen in the river.  

Idaho Parks and Recreation also has safety tips and boating safety classes that floaters can take. See their boating safety page for more information.