Deadly Section of Bitterroot River Reopens to Floaters
After a lawsuits, new warning signs and a lot of public discussion, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks has decided to reopen a section of the Bitterroot River to floaters today, July 7.
“The section between Woodside and Tucker Fishing Access Sites is open again,” said Fish, Wildlife and Parks spokeswoman Vivica Crowser. “It’s been closed to floating since mid-April, this is the stretch of river where the supply ditch diversion dam is and it is unsafe to float over that dam at any time. What we’ve really been working on over the last year is increasing the information out there to floaters on where to stop, pull their boats over and portage, or walk around the dam.”
In 2013 a 6-year-old girl drowned after her raft was flipped near the dam. Many more rafts have been flipped in the same area.
“Last week we put out additional signs upstream at access sites and then also along the river to warn boaters about where the dam is,” Crowser said. So there is a sign a mile up, a half mile, and a quarter mile above the dam and then one that points directly to the portage location.”
Crowser says FWP is working on a permanent solution. Right now, the river is so high, that a western channel has opened up allowing floaters to skip the dam altogether.