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Drift Boat Training Set for Improved patrols on the Rogue
For Immediate Release -8/2/11
During the week of August 8-12, Marine Law Enforcement personnel from around the state will converge on the Rogue River for intense drift boat training, focusing on boat handling skills in rapids, white water rescue techniques, and boater and river guide compliance with boating regulations. 
This season, the Rogue River has an added challenge with the high water flows, making the need for drift boat training even more paramount.  “Students who participate in this training will be dealing with the exact conditions that get some of the inexperienced drifters into trouble,” says Dale Flowers, Law Enforcement Coordinator for the Marine Board.  “This training is one of a kind in the country because of the 1:1 student/teacher ratio, during the most active time of the year for boaters,” Flowers adds.  Drift boat operations on a hazardous river give students an opportunity to experience exactly the same conditions as the people they are there to protect. 
Drift boat training also includes learning the fundamentals of “reading the river” and maneuvering.  “Everything is hands-on.  Students and instructors need to demonstrate physical skills and communicate really well with each other to make the learning productive while maintaining safety,” Flowers adds. 
Drift boating takes practice, and for law enforcement to respond to emergencies or other conflicts quickly, a high degree of skill is required.  “This training is geared toward getting the students proficient and confident with their skills,” adds Flowers.  Each day the students drift various sections, beginning with Class I rapids. “For example, we focus the students’ attention the first day to lifting their vision down river –to see the whole run vs. the next ten feet in front of the boat,” says Flowers.  The next day, instructors build on the skills from the day before and attempt a more difficult rapid (Class II).  It’s easy to see how people get into trouble by looking directly in front of them and ultimately row into a hazardous situation,” Flowers explains. 
The skills the students gain give them a strong foundation to build upon when they return to their regular operating area.  “We also practice scenarios where students encounter boaters and guides who are not in compliance with existing laws,” Flowers adds.  “When the law enforcement students leave this training, they have a new respect for the river, the people who run it, and making sure everyone is playing by the rules.”
For more information about the Marine Law Enforcement Program, visit http://www.boatoregon.com/OSMB/BoatLaws/index.shtml.