Watershed

Stories from the Smith River Alliance Newsletter

River Entrapment Hazard Removed

Skilled Volunteers Eliminate Hazard

The Smith River is considered one of the last wild rivers in the United States, many visit its 300+ miles of protected waterway every year to fish, swim and kayak. Although the Smith River and its tributaries are designated as a National Wild and Scenic River; there is plenty of work to be done by the Smith River Alliance to protect and conserve this river system, as well as mitigate potential hazards for people who visit it each year. This includes removing trash and large debris like metal soda cans, rubber car tires, and even heavy construction equipment.

For rafters, kayakers, snorkelers and swimmers, industrial metal scaffolding that falls in the Smith River and remains or migrates downstream can be a serious hazard, which can trap a river user. “Entrapment” is when a person in the water is pinned by the flow of water through a manmade or natural sieve.

For this reason, the Smith River Alliance (SRA) has been working with volunteers and partners to remove man-made entrapment hazards found in the Smith River and its tributaries — most recently this includes steel scaffolding removed from the South Fork of the Smith River. This recent effort involved scaffolding lost during construction of the two Federal Highway Administration (FHA) bridges spanning the South Fork of the Smith River built in the 1980s.  Since then, these entrapment hazards have been migrating downstream, occasionally locking up on rocks and narrow sections of the river channel.

To see images from this SRA volunteer project, scroll to the bottom of this page.

Several years ago, SRA partnered with Sundance Kayak School, a local kayaking school, to remove one of these scaffolding units that was just upstream from the South Fork Gorge in the Smith River.  Follow this link for text and photographs from the winter recovery effort.  Special thanks and appreciations to the late Lori Turbes of Sundance Kayak School who recorded the project.   https://sundancekayak.com/river-conservation/smith-river-clean

In early 2022, SRA will use kayaks to access the last remaining scaffolding unit that poses an entrapment risk in the South Fork canyon.  The scaffolding unit has been temporarily secured out of the channel near the mouth of Coon Creek.  A battery powered sawzall will be used to cut the scaffolding into manageable pieces which will then be rafted down river by volunteers for recycling.

Images from Oct. 2 Scaffolding Project at South Fork

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