Flood dams up Salmon River

Apr 8 2011 - 10:50am

SALMON, Idaho -- A blowout flood in the Black Creek drainage has dammed the Salmon River, created a new rapid and buried another.

The flood pushed large rocks and tree trunks into the river about a half-mile below Salmon Falls on the main Salmon River, between the towns of Salmon and Riggins in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness Area. Salmon Falls is about 67 miles downstream of the town of North Fork.

Kent Fuellenbach, a spokesman for the Salmon Challis National Forest, said the April 1 flood created a rock, silt and log jam that pushed slackwater upstream and buried Salmon Falls, a popular rapid, under about a foot of water. It also created a new rapid with a large drop and big holes downstream of Salmon Falls.

The stretch of river, often referred to as the Main Salmon, is popular with whitewater boaters. However, use is low to nonexistent this time of year, and Forest Service officials do not plan to take any action to break the dam. Instead they will wait for high water.

"Hopefully the log jam will be opened up and the new rapid will be somewhat modified to make for easier running," said North Fork District Ranger Russ Bacon.

In 2006, the agency used dynamite to dislodge a log jam on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River that stranded more than 300 rafters during the heart of the rafting season.

Fuellenbach said with the mountains in the Salmon River basin holding a healthy snowpack and high spring flows still to come, the jam is likely to wash away long before the rafting season gets busy.

Barker may be contacted at ebarkerlmtribune.com or at (208) 848-2273.

To see more of The Lewiston Morning Tribune, go to www.lmtribune.com.

(c) 2011, The Lewiston Morning Tribune, Idaho

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.


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