Editorial: River ban isn’t the answer
Eagle County Sheriff Joe Hoy said he’s considering banning boaters from certain parts of the Eagle River in light of several recent boating accidents. Longtime local kayakers like Steve Boyd say “no way” to Hoy’s idea, claiming boaters “should be able to determine their own skill levels.”
There’s no doubt, with water levels on some stretches of the river at the highest point in decades, the river is dangerous and should be respected. A ban isn’t the solution, however. Instead, rafting companies should consider altering their routes to cut out some of the more dangerous rapids, like the one near the Eagle County Fairgrounds that dumped 19 people in the river in early June. Likewise, the local kayaking and rafting community needs to do a little due diligence and self-policing, making sure that their skill level is a match for the river’s fast and high conditions.
Stores like Wal-Mart that sell cheap rafts and inflatable kayaks not meant for whitewater should be required to, at the very least, give buyers a river safety information sheet that dissuades them from trying to “float” the river. A few strategically-placed signs at river put-in points might also help warn visitors to the area about the danger.
An outright ban is not the answer, but it’s not fair to local rescue personnel to have to risk their lives to save people in, literally, over their heads. A little common sense and respect for nature’s power ” along with some public alerts from the Sheriff’s Office ” is a better solution.
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