Western Montana floaters should be prepared for debris, other hazards

Logs are blocking the river channel in several locations along the Bitterroot
Posted at 2:38 PM, Jul 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-14 16:10:37-04

MISSOULA - State wildlife officials are reminding floaters to be prepared for debris as river flows drop and activity picks up on rivers and creeks around western Montana

Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks (FWP) notes boaters seem to be finding more debris and log jams in local rivers than on an average year.

In the past week, the Bitterroot River, in particular, has been a hot spot for log jams in multiple locations, according to FWP.

Log jams have been reported to block all or most of the Bitterroot in the sections below Angler’s Roost, Veteran’s Bridge, Bell Crossing and Tucker Crossing access sites.

Woody debris is a natural event and is a risk that boaters should be prepared for.

Although obstructions are identified on one day, conditions can change rapidly, freeing the river of log jams in one spot and creating hazards in new locations.

Logs and other debris can overturn boats and trap gear and boaters beneath the water.

Consider alternative water recreation locations when necessary, and if you do go, wear a life jacket, take it slow, scout ahead, and walk, FWP advises.

People should “portage” boats around hazards and also be aware of diversion dams in some local rivers that require portage around.

Taking that extra time to research and watch for obstructions and to stop and walk around is a critical safety step.

Hazards exist on any river, and conditions can change rapidly as flows drop and new debris is carried along the river and settles in new locations.

FWP notes that following spring runoff, floaters will also find river channels that have changed locations, presenting new conditions and floating considerations.