Printed on: September 07, 2013

Boaters cautioned to watch for debris in Salmon's Middle Fork

By LAURA ZUCKERMAN
news@postregister.com

SALMON -- A thunderstorm that slammed into the Salmon area Thursday night likely triggered a landslide that sent trees, rocks, mud and other debris into a key stretch of the Middle Fork of the Salmon River, Salmon-Challis National Forest officials said Friday.

A private party rafting the portion of the wild and scenic river in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness managed to navigate through the blowout, which obstructed most of the river channel near Sheepeater Hot Springs, about 13 miles downstream of the Middle Fork's headwaters and the popular Boundary Creek launch site.

Forest officials said there were other unconfirmed reports of slides along Salmon River Road, the only roadway for vehicles that allows rafters to leave the Middle Fork unless they are floating to Riggins. Officials were cautioning boaters about the blowout, but not barring launches from Boundary Creek.

The controlled season on the river, which limits the number of daily launches by private and commercial parties, opened May 28 and ended Tuesday. During that same time period last year, nearly 8,000 people launched from Boundary Creek.

The storm that moved through the area also caused a widespread power outage that affected thousands in Salmon and surrounding communities. The power went out after 5 p.m. Thursday and wasn't restored until the predawn hours Friday, according to Idaho Power officials.