Boaters need to be extra cautious

{gallery}/06_28_11/river{/gallery} The Jackson County Sheriff’s Marine Division has one very important message for boaters and floaters. Have personal floatation devises on or ready.

Recently Deputy Jason Denton took media for a ride down the Rogue River to point out some of the hazards of boating the ever changing waters. He was most interested in getting the word out about the importance of knowing the water you are in and always having a life jacket on or near. The other part of that message is to be sure to have life jackets that are the right size for the people in the boat.

 

With the removal of Gold Ray Dam the river is flowing much differently than it used to and there are a lot of new hazards and extra debris in the water. We saw several large “strainers”, fallen trees that can cause vessels to tip, in the water as well as a capsized driftboat that was just beneath the surface. The water is higher than in the past as well. The Sheriff’s office expects to see more traffic on the river now that the dam has been removed which itself is another hazard. A good rule is to plan your trip and know the water you are on. Do not try to raft rough water you do not know, there are plenty of guided trips available.

 

The boat ramp at Fisher Ferry is on the list to be improved and is where people are encouraged to take take out of the river after floating downstream from TouVelle Park or some other launch site. Fisher Ferry is the suggested takeout because below that point the river becomes much harder to navigate and there are no good locations below until you reach Gold Hill. The problem with Fisher Ferry is there is little parking and the ramp is quite steep. The improvements planned will help with these issues.

The Jackson County Sheriff’s office has 3 full time Marine Deputies plus four part time deputies. They try to have four boats on the water during the weekends. Much of what they do is to educate the public in boating safety. The addition of the Boater’s Safety card has made a positive impact on the awareness of safety rules. Education on Drinking and Boating has made a difference as well. Many people do not take operating a boat under the influence as serious as they might take operating a car. The main reason seems to be that when you are in a boat you are recreating and therefore more apt to drink.

The state of Oregon Marine Division mandates how much time is spent on each waterway. The state also helps to pay the salaries of those marine deputies. Most of the boats used are owned by the state. Jackson County does own one and it was purchased with Title III dollars. Title III grants are federal grants and must be for specific things. You can’t say you are going to buy a truck and then buy a boat instead.

With the weather finally warming up there will be many more people on the water. Remember to be safe and watch out for the other guy and have your life jacket handy.

 

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