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Release Date: 06/16/09
Contacts: Erin Curtis, Public Information Officer, (970) 244-3097    

Colorado River running high

 GRAND JUNCTION, Colo.—In the wake of a drowning near Black Rocks last weekend, the Bureau of Land Management is reminding the public that even so-called “flat water” stretches of the Colorado River can be dangerous.

With the water running higher, faster and colder than usual for this time of year, recreation managers say safety measures must be taken.
“The myth that flat water poses no threat is just that – a myth,” said Katie A. Stevens, manager of the McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area, which includes the Ruby-Horsethief stretch of the Colorado River. “It may look flat, but flows in the river are actually about five times what they will be later this summer, and snowmelt has made the river very cold, as well.
"When it looks flat, it’s easy to get complacent. But the reality is that with high flows and 58-degree water, if you fall in without a life jacket, you may not make it back to shore.”
At high flows, the river tends to keep you in the main river channel and away from shore. Swimming to shore is extremely difficult even for strong swimmers, Stevens said.
Stevens is urging the public to take all appropriate safety precautions on the river, including:
             Wear a life jacket that meets the U.S.Coast Guard minimum of 15½ pounds of flotation in an adult PFD (personal flotation device). Less capable swimmers should consider products with a higher level of flotation, such as those in the 22-27 pound range. The more flotation in a jacket, the higher you float and the faster you pop to the surface. Make sure you are comfortable wearing it and that it is properly fitted.
             Use a good quality, multi-chamber raft, not a single-chamber “toy” raft that can be easily punctured and sunk.
             If you are not an experienced canoeist, wait to float the river until the water is warm, low and slow – canoes are much easier to tip and pose a greater threat to inexperienced boaters in current conditions
             Remember that currents can be unpredictable, especially in the Black Rocks section, where the water is significantly deeper – go feet in some places – and the rocks create tricky currents and drags. PFDs should be worn at all times in the water and the decision to go into the water should be made carefully.
As of this weekend, the Colorado River was running more than 16,000 cubic feet per second (CFS). That’s equivalent to 16,000 basketballs going past your nose each second. Water temperatures are hovering around 58 degrees.
“We want the public to enjoy the river, have fun and stay safe,” said Stevens. “That’s why it’s so important to take these precautions now."



The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land, the most of any Federal agency. This land, known as the National System of Public Lands, is primarily located in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. The BLM's mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. In Fiscal Year 2015, the BLM generated $4.1 billion in receipts from activities occurring on public lands.

  2815 H Rd      Grand Junction, CO 81506  

Last updated: 06-17-2009