JACKSON — Officials in Washington County are warning about high water and obstructions in local rivers after a mishap on the Batten Kill over the weekend.
Three kayakers, two adults and a 10-year-old boy, overturned their boats late Saturday in the area where county Route 64 meets Foster Lane, requiring them to leave their boats behind and walk to a campground in the area for help, according to the Washington County Department of Public Safety. No injuries were reported.
The kayaks were later recovered pinned against debris in the river. A fourth, whose owner had not reported it missing, was found in the same area. County Public Safety Director Glen Gosnell said a drone was used to help locate the boats, and search the river at night with infrared equipment for whoever may have been with the fourth kayak.
“Those looking to utilize the river in its current condition in those areas for recreational water activities should use extreme caution; inexperienced kayakers/paddlers should consider avoiding use of the river in its current state,” the Department of Public Safety said in a news release.
Rivers are higher and colder than usual this spring because of rain and snowmelt from winter. More rain is coming this week, which will likely keep rivers high into the weekend.
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Flooding earlier this spring has also resulted in debris, including whole trees, in the river in places where they weren’t last summer, with complete blockages in sections near Shushan and a change of the river channel near the “oxbow” near Route 64. There is another bad stretch just upstream of the oxbow curve where the kayakers were dumped Saturday.
Tim Hardy, Washington County’s deputy director of public safety, said a forecast that calls for more rain coupled with the upcoming July Fourth holiday has led to concerns about more problems on the Batten Kill, which is popular with tubers, kayakers, canoeists and anglers.
“It’s a mess right now,” he said of stretches of the river. “It’s a beautiful place, but it’s not for the inexperienced.”
He said state forest rangers have been trying to clear some of the worst obstructions, but “there’s only so much you can do.”
State Police, state forest rangers, Washington County sheriff’s officers, the county Department of Public Safety and numerous fire departments and Cambridge Valley Rescue responded to the mishap.