Recreation - Region 5
Friday, July 29, 2011
BILLINGS — High runoff throughout south central Montana this spring changed the channels and structures in many of the region’s rivers and creeks. Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks is advising recreational floaters to use extreme caution for the rest of the summer.
The runoff – which peaked at record levels in many instances – carried masses of debris and whole trees downstream and deposited them on bends, gravel bars and braided channels of the region’s rivers and streams. In some flood-plain areas, the main stream channel of the creek or river moved noticeably from last year.
Particularly in the lower mile of all streams draining into the Yellowstone River, trees and debris in the river channels are hazardous, even to experienced floaters.
Fishermen and floaters on streams draining the Beartooth Mountains – including the Boulder River, Stillwater River, Clarks Fork of the Yellowstone and Rock Creek – have reported hazardous log jams, debris heaps and whole trees in braided channels along the lower stretches of each drainage. Changing channels in the Yellowstone River this spring exposed riprap and deposited debris and new gravel bars that were not evident in years past.
All streams throughout the region changed to some degree during high water – and will continue to change as runoff levels drop. Floaters should be particularly award of changing channels and debris and avoid any hazards that may tip or tear rafts, canoes, kayaks, boats or inner tubes.
Boaters and angler always should wear an appropriate Coast Guard-approved personal floatation device – or life jacket – when navigating Montana waters.