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Downed trees in rivers pose threat as summer approaches, officials say

There are two trees that are down on the Willamette River between Clearwater Park and Jasper Road.

Posted: May 16, 2019 6:48 PM

WILLAMETTE RIVER, Ore. -- Downed trees in rivers are causing dangerous conditions as summer approaches.

Officials said one of the main concerns with downed trees is that, depending on how fast the current is running, people floating on rafts or inner tubes could get tangled up in the branches or even pulled under.

Martin Thurber has been a river guide for 30 years, and he said when the rivers are high, the threat of downed trees increases. He said he saw the harmful effects these trees can have when three people died a couple of years ago.

"I just want to make everybody aware how dangerously and quickly you can get into trouble with trees like this here," Thurber said.

He said one of his main concerns are the two trees that are down on the Willamette River between Clearwater Park and Jasper Road. One of those obstructions is not on the Oregon State Marine Board's website.

He also said if this isn't resolved come summertime, it could be deadly.

RELATED: Downed trees creating dangers for boaters after winter storm

Sgt. Carrie Carver with the Lane County Sheriff's Office said the public is helpful when it comes to tracking these obstructions.

"There is a possibility that an obstruction could be in a waterway for several days, especially if the water is not great and there haven't been boaters out there or anyone in view of that obstruction to see it and report it," Carver said.

If you are out on the river, there's one thing Thurber said people should avoid doing: "Inner tubes that tie their tubes together is the biggest mistake they can make. People will come with four to five tubes tied together, and there's absolutely no way to steer them."

Both Thurber and Carver said its crucial for people to be aware of the path they are taking down the river so they can be cautious about possible dangers.

Carver also said it's important to keep in mind your skill level and avoid areas that you don't feel as comfortable in, especially with the summer season ahead.

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