River runners should have good flows

STATESMAN STAFFApril 24, 2014 

0707 out 12 raft

PETE ZIMOWSKY — Idaho Statesman file

Back to back months with above normal precipitation should make river runners, reservoir boaters and anglers happy across most of the state.

March brought more rain in lower elevations and snow to the high county, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the federal agency that tracks precipitation and snowpack. A few storms in early April added more moisture to the snowpack.

"It made our winter,'' said Ron Abramovich, water supply specialist with the NRCS.

The Clearwater and Salmon rivers are running high this month. The Payette River basin has good flows for rafting this spring.

The Weiser River, which has a short rafting season in late May and early June, has been running since March.

Here are stats on snowpack for area river basins from NRCS on Tuesday:

• Payette, 98 percent of normal.

• Boise, 103 percent.

• Middle Fork Salmon, 102 percent.

• Main Salmon, 109 percent.

• Lochsa and Selway rivers, 165 percent.

• Owyhee and Bruneau rivers, 40 percent of normal. Both southwest Idaho desert rivers are history as far as the river-running season.

Some boaters were able to run the Owyhee in early April when there was a spike in flows. The Bruneau River has continued to be really low all spring.

Snowstorms, which come up from Nevada, never materialized in the Owyhees, Abramovich said.

Instead, a lot of the snowstorms came across north and north-cental Idaho helping the Payette, Boise, Salmon and Clearwater basins.

Abramovich expects a good boating season for the rivers in those basins.

Reservoir boaters can look forward to ample water levels in certain areas. In fact, boat ramps are already in the water at local reservoirs.

This week, Lake Cascade was 79 percent full; Deadwood, 70 percent full; Arrowrock, 91 percent; and Lucky Peak, 77 percent. In the Owyhee River basin, where there was low snowpack, Owyhee Reservoir is at 27 percent full.

Snowpacks are the highest at 145 to 160 percent of normal in the Upper Snake. That could mean decent flows on the Snake River in Hells Canyon.

See recent videos at idahostatesman.com for a current video of rafting the Main Payette.

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