Each year early season whitewater boaters have serious accidents and close calls on Marsh Creek and the upper Middle Fork of the Salmon River and this year the U.S. Forest Service did a reconnaissance flight of creek and river to check out dangers.
Marsh Creek is a popular access to the Middle Fork in early season when the roads to Bear Valley and the launch site at Boundary Creek and Dagger Falls are still snowed in.
Downed timber in the river can be a problem each year but it is especially troublesome this year after a massive forest fire last summer.
“The fire burned most trees along this headwaters section, so anytime the wind blows or snow slides, more trees block the access streams,” said Dave Mills of Rocky Mountain River Tours.
“The Forest Service does not remove trees from Marsh Creek or the Middle Fork of the Salmon River. Boaters are not prohibited from removing trees; however, within wilderness this must be done using non-motorized tools,” the federal agency said.
The boundary for the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness is about a mile downstream from the Idaho 21 launch site. It is illegal to use a chainsaw in the wilderness. Traditional tools such as crosscut saws, axes, come-alongs and/or block and tackle are allowed.
The Forest Service is urging early boaters to be prepared with equipment and boating ability before launching on the remote stretch. For more information on current conditions, contact the Middle Fork Ranger District at (208) 879-4101.
Here is the agency’s report:
- One tree about 1/2 mile below the confluence of Bear Valley Creek and Marsh Creek lying from bank to bank.
- Five trees lying from bank to bank above the confluence of both creeks, one being about 1/4 mile below the launch site on Idaho 21.
- An additional six tree span at least half way across Marsh Creek.
- The Idaho Fish and Game fish trap was in place about 1/2 mile below the Idaho 21 put-in site.
The agency says these dangers shouldn’t be considered a complete list of obstacles or hazards.
To see photos along with the report go the Forest Service’s SURVEY
File photo of the pack bridge above Dagger Falls in low water of mid-summer by Pete Zimowsky/Idaho Statesman