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FWP offers up safety advice for Western Montana river floaters

Posted at 12:50 PM, Jul 14, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-14 14:53:06-04

MISSOULA – The recent warmer weather means the rivers are calling and floating season is finally here. It’s finally nice enough to float — and right now, conditions are almost perfect in the Missoula area.

Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks has some advice for you to keep the river clean and yourself safe.

“Now the flows have really come down in most spots, so it’s a lot safer than it would have been just a few weeks back,” FWP spokeswoman Vivica Crowser noted. “So in terms of getting out there and floating, it really is a good time to start thinking about that.”

“But just remember that those hazards still exist and in some places, there’s actually more hazards when the levels come down so you just want to be careful,” she added.

In Western Montana, you have many options when choosing a river to float, but some require a little more attention while you’re on them for your safety.

“I think in general right now the rivers around here are OK to go on by in large, but there are some spots — like the Bitterroot [that] is kind of known for its extra debris and branches and things like that,” Crowser told MTN News.

“So, just be careful if you’re not in a raft or a drift boat especially. But in general, the water temperatures are higher than they were earlier in the summer. The air temperatures are up, so it’s a good time to be out there, but you just want to use some caution,” she continued.

Most river recreators bring their own drinks and snacks, so make sure you’re taking your trash out of the river with you and not leaving it at access areas.

“So, it’s really important. Our access sites in a lot of spots, you can not have glass for safety reasons. So make sure you’re not bringing glass to the river. And whatever you do bring, have a plan for packing it out,” Crowser said.

She continued: “A lot of local businesses have mesh bags that you can pick up for free and take with you. It’s an easy thing to just tie onto your boat and put all of your trash in there and have it still be wet and be no problem.”

Crowser also noted that it’s important to wear a life vest when out on the river as it could safe your life if unexpected hazards pop up in the water.

-Reported by Connor McCauley/MTN News