Logs and debris caught up in the North Umpqua River could pose a significant risk to boaters and floaters over the Fourth of July Weekend according to the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office Marine Division and Douglas County Fire District No. 2.

Debris has accumulated in the rapids between Sunburn Alley and River Forks Park since last summer and the sheriff’s office and the fire district are warning people using the river to scout ahead and use extreme caution.

According to the Oregon State Marine Board’s most recent data, 12 people died in recreational boating incidents in 2017.

Local public safety officials are working with the marine board to address the obstructions.

“It is important for those recreating to understand what it looks like downstream and plan accordingly. Often, these obstructions are not visible until it is too late to change course,” sheriff’s spokesman Brad O’Dell said in a press release. “As always, we encourage everyone to safely enjoy the water sober and to wear their life jacket.”

Lt. Ryan Felker said the fire district posted warning signs at the boat ramps in anticipation of the Fourth of July.

“We understand that life jackets can be cumbersome and sometimes an annoyance. That’s why it so important to find one that fits correctly, is comfortable and is used. They truly save lives,” Felker said in a press release. “We have had multiple incidents that have taken the lives of individuals, but had they been wearing a life jacket the outcome may have been different.”

Both agencies encourage the public to use the river systems and to enjoy them but stressed the importance of knowing what lies ahead.

Janelle Polcyn can be reached at jpolcyn@nrtoday.com or 541-957-4204. Or follow her on Twitter @JanellePolcyn.

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Janelle Polcyn is a reporter at The News-Review, graduated from the University of Texas, and is a podcast enthusiast.

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