FRESNO COUNTY – The river is open.
Locals have been waiting for the river levels recede so they can take advantage of recreation on the Kings River during the summer holidays.
The Fresno County Sheriff’s Office announced the reopening on July 5 that the Kings River - from Pine Flat Dam to the Tulare and Kings County lines - would reopen on July 6.
The river had been closed because the large amount of melting snow in the Sierra had caused an extremely heavy amount of water flowing into and out of Pine Flat Dam. On Friday, July 5, the Sheriff’s Boating Enforcement Unit consulted with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers who reported that water releases are now expected to stabilize. Thus, conditions are safe enough to allow public to access the Kings River.
The Sheriff’s Office is extremely pleased with how well the public cooperated with the rules set in place during the closure of the river. One rescue did occur on June 28 when a man attempted to swim across the river near the Pine Flat Bridge Road. He was swept downstream and grabbed a bush and held on until firefighters pulled him to shore. The man was transported to a hospital for medical treatment.
Deputies did not issue any citations during the closure period. Everyone deputies did find to be in the water illegally, acted respectfully and exited without any problems.
Although the river is being reopened, it is important to note several safety hazards still exist for boaters, floaters and swimmers. There are downed trees, which create strainers where turbulent water flows through the tree. A person caught in a strainer can get pinned against the tree quickly or even swept underneath it. It is extremely difficult to rescue yourself from a strainer and typically requires emergency help from trained rescue personnel.
Please use good, safe judgement when entering the water. The temperature of the water is registering about 56 degrees. Exposure to the cold water can cause hypothermia, which can quickly lead to exhaustion or unconsciousness.
Sheriff’s deputies ask the public to take simple safety precautions during water activities such as: Wear a life jacket
Stay out of the water if you’re not an experienced swimmer.
Do not mix alcohol and swimming. Alcohol causes swimmers to fatigue faster than normal and can create dangerous situations.
Keep an eye on children at all times. In less than a minute they can slip into the water and be put at risk for injury or death.
The Boating Enforcement Unit will continue to patrol the river this summer to enforce the law and assist with any safety matters.