Bridger-Teton encourages cautious recreation this spring
by Bridger-Teton National Forest
May 21, 2011
Record snowpack on the Bridger-Teton National Forest, combined with above-average precipitation in April, has Forest Supervisor Jacque Buchanan encouraging visitors to the Forest to be cautious while recreating.
Forest Service officials are asking recreationists to be aware of potential flooding in canyons, especially at lower elevations. Visitors should be alert and not assume the river is the same as it once was. Travelers should not attempt to cross roads where water is flowing across. Visitors should use extreme caution when recreating around fast moving streams or rivers. "With the potential for additional landslides around the Forest, rescue agencies might not be able to get to recreationists in trouble in a timely fashion," said Buchanan. "We are encouraging all of our visitors to be extremely careful when using the Forest and suggest going out with a permitted outfitter," she said.
It can be hard to put safety ahead of recreation, but visitors need to be prepared in these snowmelt conditions. Debris in the water can certainly increase the chance of capsizing. "With the changing conditions across the Forest coupled with the landslides and the fact that the trail or road you came in on might not be there when you come out, visitors need to be prepared to self-rescue and understand that help may be delayed or unable to reach you at all," said Buchanan.
Rivers change their channels constantly in high flows and log jams, landslides, or other natural occurrences can take what once was a familiar rapid and surprise even the most experienced boaters. The high water coupled with the cold water temperatures and changing spring conditions are all factors that need to be considered before launching on any of the Forestís rivers. "Part of your safety plan should be a willingness to reschedule if conditions deteriorate," Buchanan said. "It is critical that you observe the channels and look for high-water hazards before heading out."
Visitors are advised to use the following safety tips:
Watch children and pets at all times.
Avoid crossing streams and rivers.
Avoid unstable stream banks.
Avoid walking on iced covered lakes and streams.
Bridge abutments around the Forest are catching debris and building up new waves. The Forest is urging all visitors to any waterway to be properly outfitted with a personal flotation device. "Conditions are fast and the water levels are such that they will be challenging to even the most experienced boaters," said Buchanan. "With the potential for agency response to be delayed or nonexistent, it is imperative that Forest visitors are prepared for the worse-case scenario and capable of saving themselves," she said.