BYLT urges river-goers to use extreme caution when recreating this time of year

Bear Yuba Land Trust urges everyone to exercise extreme caution this time of year when recreating outdoors where high temperatures and melting snow pack in the Sierra Nevada create potentially life-threatening conditions in creeks and rivers.

A drowning occurred on Friday afternoon, at a popular fishing spot on U.S. Army Corps of Engineers land, at the old bridge abutments of historic Rice’s Crossing Road, bordering BYLT’s Rice’s Crossing Preserve.

“We are so saddened to hear of another drowning – too many this year. This is another horrible reminder for people to not swim in the river and possibly for the whole year since there will be snowmelt into August,” said BYLT’s Executive Director Marty Coleman Hunt.

Numerous signs posted at the preserve state swimming is discouraged because of the swift current, but cold water temperatures are equally as dangerous.

Nevada County is home to two spectacular rivers – Bear River and Yuba River – enjoyed by thousands of outdoor lovers every year. While inviting and beautiful, these rivers can be very dangerous, even deadly, in the spring and early summer. Annual snowmelt can create dangerous conditions with extremely cold water and swift, very deceiving currents.

Bear Yuba Land Trust has public river access at Rice’s Crossing Preserve, French Bar where swimming is discouraged because of unsafe conditions. The water current and flows are swift and dangerous and can change dramatically, presenting life-threatening conditions. Cold water can lead to gasping, hyperventilating, muscle cramping, hypothermia, cardiac arrest and functional disability. When out hiking or recreating, please stay away from the river’s edge and don’t enter the water, especially if you do not know how to swim or have been consuming alcohol.

As air temperatures warm, it will be tempting to enter the rivers but don’t be fooled. Never leave your children unattended near any body of water. Even if you are an experienced swimmer you should stay out of the water.

Please do not enter whitewater under any circumstances. Inner tubes or other small flotation devices are inadequate and extremely dangerous as they are easily overturned in the swift currents and can be deflated by impacts with rocks and branches.

The current conditions in many of our waterways are not survivable despite safety equipment, training or experience in whitewater. Many river locations are remote and in steep canyons, far from rescue personnel with little to no cell phone service.

For more than 27 years, community-supported BYLT has worked to save land from development, build trails and provide outdoor programming for people of all ages to explore the natural world.