For the week of August 12 thru August 18, 1998  

Salmon River floating rules in effect

Express Staff Writer

Special rules for floating the upper main Salmon River below Stanley went into effect this week, to protect salmon spawning areas.

Chinook salmon, listed under the federal Endangered Species Act, begin to build their redds, or nests, in mid-August, before beginning to spawn in late August or early September.

During this staging period, these areas need to be left undisturbed. According to Liese Dean, information specialist with the Sawtooth National Recreation Area in Stanley, salmon that are already exhausted after a 900-mile journey from the Pacific--upstream--often will not return to these staging areas if scared away by rafts. To date, 237 returning salmon have been counted.

The Forest Service has therefore restricted floating times through two salmon spawning areas.

Floating through Indian Riffles, located approximately three miles down river from Sunbeam Dam, is restricted to the hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Floating through Torrey’s Hole, some six miles below Indian Riffles, is limited from noon to 6 p.m.

These restrictions remain in effect until Aug. 21, or until salmon begin spawning. On Aug. 21, or sooner if salmon begin spawning, floaters will be required to take their boats out of the water and portage around Indian Riffles and Torrey’s Hole.

This is the third year the special floating rules have been in effect. Last year, the portage requirement went into effect early because salmon began spawning earlier than anticipated.

As soon as the portage restrictions go into effect this year, the information will be posted at launch sites and on signs along the river.

"In an effort to insure compliance with these restrictions, we have implemented a system for dealing with violations," stated Paul Ries, area ranger for the SNRA. "This system also goes into effect Aug. 10. Points are assessed for violating the restrictions, such as floating windows, failure to observe area closures and failure to obtain permits."

Points are accrued separately by private and commercial floaters. If the maximum penalty points is reached by the general public, the river will be closed to public floating. Points assessed by commercial operators affect their special-use permits.

Last year, the river was closed to general floating on Aug. 25 because of the number of violations. That did not affect commercial outfitters.

During the salmon spawning period in September, the entire river was closed to floaters, causing complaints from the outfitters.

Dean said the location of river closures will depend on where spawning is taking place. Usually, just the two portage areas, historically the most probable spawning sites, are closed.

"Last year we had redds up and down the river," she said.

So while a blanket restriction on floating during spawning has yet to be decided, the portage requirements after Aug. 21 will be mandatory, Dean said.


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