An emergency river closure has been put in place on the Bitterroot River from Woodside Bridge to the Tucker Fishing Access Site due to dangers at the Supply Ditch diversion dam.

Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks and the Ravalli County Sheriff's Office established the closure after two floating accidents already this year. A fatality and several boating accidents last year were blamed on the low-head dam that diverts water for irrigation.

A portage recommendation has already been established by FWP due to the currents below the dam.

However, according to FWP Region 2 Fisheries Manager Pat Saffel, the portage location is not accessible due to the rising river flows as we begin spring high water season.

The emergency closure will be lifted when the portage conditions improve.

Vivaca Crowser of FWP wrote in a press release that a permanent fix is being discussed by officials, including possible structural changes to the dam. Comments on the issue are being accepted at the Fish Wildlife and Parks office at 3201 Spurgin Road, Missoula.

Spring high water season has begun. With the warmer weather, Saffel said that water levels can change frequently.

In a news release, Saffel said, "No matter the stretch of river, be on the lookout for obstacles, take it slowly, and when in doubt, stop and scout the water conditions. And for some less experienced boaters, it is best to stay off the rivers until spring high water conditions have subsided."