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Kayakers, Rafters Urged to Avoid North Santiam Construction Site
For Immediate Release- 9/27/11
Rafters, kayakers and other boaters are risking injury or death if they attempt to boat through the construction site at Minto Dam on the North Santiam River between Niagara Park and Packsaddle Park east of Gates along Hwy 22. The river is currently closed to all boating in this 2.5 mile stretch, but kayakers have continued to show up at the construction site unaware of the closure.
The Marine Board adopted the closure in January and posted signs along the river bank below Big Cliff Dam and at Niagara Park. The Board also notified known kayak and rafting organizations during the rulemaking process. However, because there are no specific river access points in this area, kayakers and rafters unaware of the rule apparently launch away from the signs or do not notice them.
The construction project has reached a stage where temporary structures have blocked the river bank adjacent to the low-head dam at the Minto construction site. This blocks the ability of people to exit the water and may force them over the waterfall. The hydraulics are such that boats and operators going over the waterfall are often held underwater for an extended period of time. Several dramatic rescues have occurred in recent years as people have attempted to navigate the small dam.
This stretch of the river will be closed until April 2013 when the construction project is expected to be completed.