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Local river, streams deemed dangerous now

Local streams and rivers in Yakima County continue with flows that are extremely dangerous. That's the word from the Yakima County Sheriff's Search and Rescue unit.

Even though the flows have diminished slightly, the rivers and streams remain very hazzardous, said Sheriff's Sgt. John Durand.

At a meeting in Klickitat County this past Wednesday evening, a number of local river guides recommended closure of the Klickitat River which also runs through Yakima County. The river guides agreed to suspend all commercial operations until the river conditions improve.

Durand said the Memorial Day weekend is very popular with private rafters and kayakers who use the rivers. He said the river guides recognize the danger and are taking steps to prevent or avoid another accident similar to what occurred last weekend.

According to Durand, the high water has dislodged debris that have accumulated along the banks for the last several years, "...in which we did not experience the run-off or high water." Durand explained this large amount of debris has now been deposited into the rivers and streams, creating a serious hazzard to rafters and kayakers.

"This debris can be snags which rest just below the surface and are not visible due to the muddy water. They can be large logs or stumps which can capsize or strike a raft or boat, causing damage or capsizing of the craft, depositing the occupants in the water," he said.

The high water may have also changed the course of the river or stream which can lead a rafter out of the main river flow and into an area that does not normally receive water flow and could be filled with more obstructions and hidden danger.

Also, the water temperature is extremely cold and a short period of time in the water can result in hypothermia, which will reduce a person's ability to function or make good decisions.

Durand said all recreational users and citizens are asked to remember to use caution and good common sense when venturing near the water. Also, he said, people should wear and use a personal floatation device and never go alone.

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