Memorial Day river, traffic safety stressed

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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With the American River flowing cold and fast, the state Parks Department is saying that there are plenty of alternative ways to enjoy the Auburn State Recreation Area. Cooler than normal temperatures are expected to keep Memorial Day long weekend sun worshippers from crowding the shore areas of the American River confluence. But Superintendent Scott Liske said that a drop in the temperature will make hiking the park’s many trails a pleasant option. The water temperature is expected to be in the high 40s. “Water levels are probably average for this time of year and people need to use extreme caution, especially with children and toddlers because the water is cold and fast,” Liske said. “If people are used to visiting the park in the late summer (when water is warmer and flows are lower), this is entirely different.” Over the past two months, two men have barely survived being swept down from the confluence by the strong current. It’s not uncommon for one or more deaths to occur from drowning and exposure during the late spring. “The last one (to survive) this past weekend decided to just jump in and cool off,” Liske said. “He was very lucky.” Eric Peach, of Auburn’s Protect American River Canyons, said he’s been encouraging people to enjoy the canyon at this time of year, with wildflowers blooming and plenty of color. “I’ve emphasized staying out of the river – it’s too cold and swift, even for people with lifejackets,” Peach said. “There are plenty of other things to do, especially trying out some of the trails.” With high precipitation, Peach said that canyon visitors can have an even safer time by guarding against ticks, which thrive in weather conditions like the ones the area is currently experiencing. On the road, Placer County law enforcement agencies – including State Parks, Auburn Police, the California Highway Patrol and the Placer County Sheriff’s Office – are teaming up for DUI checkpoints and saturation patrols. Seven agencies will bring one patrol vehicle Sunday for an all-day saturation patrol in Auburn. As well, the California Highway Patrol is deploying all available officers over the weekend to patrol freeways and county roads in their jurisdiction.