Higher water levels increase safety risk onshore

Canyon visitors warned to be aware of heightened risks
By: Gus Thomson of the Auburn Journal
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The Auburn area is drying out after a stretch of heavy rain but the storm door will be opening again starting Sunday, according to the latest National Weather Service forecast.

And that means added danger for people walking close to swollen rivers, creeks and lakes to commune with nature in all her fury.

Officials are warning that the closer you get, the more dangerous it can be.

Scott Liske, Auburn State Recreation Area supervising ranger, said that the normal amount of rainfall this season is anything but after four years of drought. Typically, the winter and spring is a time for cold and swift-running water.

“We are setting up for normal spring river flows, which mean faster colder water into June,” Liske said. “Everyone should use caution around rivers, creeks and the lake. When the water level is higher than normal, the shoreline is different from what people are used to. It may be more slippery, steeper and rockier.”

Parents need to be very diligent with young children, especially around rivers and creeks, Liske said.

Dogs are allowed in the Auburn State Recreation Area but are required to be leashed. Liske said that he’s seen the tragedy of someone going into the American River to try to save a dog that had been caught in swift water. The dog was able to get out alive but its would-be rescuer did not.

“My recommendation is if a dog goes in river and its fast, cold water, don’t go in after it,” Liske said.

Instead, Liske advised watch the dog moving downstream and getting close to shoreline to help the dog get out of water.

For the next few weeks, people should take extra caution on trails because rocks are slippery and some sections are muddy, he said.

“And if someone finds a tree down blocking a trail, call our front office to let us know and we’ll remove the tree,” Liske said. One of the concerns about leaving downed trees on trails is that people start walking around it, creating erosion in a new location, he said.

The weather bureau is projecting the next storm should arrive early Sunday morning or late Sunday night. Wet conditions should continue into Tuesday. Sierra travel impacts are likely and minor flooding is possible.

Pacific Gas & Electric Co. is warning people out to see high water levels to obey signs near canals and flumes, including not to play on or near them. And if a personal item is accidentally dropped into a waterway, leave it, the corporation states.

“It’s not worth the risk of injury or death,” PG&E advises.