Written by The Business Journal Staff
The Fresno County Sheriff’s Office has closed the Kings River to recreational users due to safety concerns.
The river is closed from Pine Flat Dam to the Tulare and Kings County lines. Signs indicating the closures should be posted at popular access points starting Thursday.
The last time the Kings River was closed was 2011.
Sierra snowmelt is filling area rivers, some to overflowing. Pine Flat Dam is currently taking in 16,300 cubic feet of water per second — double the amount that was flowing this time last week.
The sheriff’s office recently surveyed water temperatures in the river, which registered at 50 degrees. Exposure to such cold water could cause hypothermia. There are other hazards too.
“Since the river is at its highest level in years, several of its banks have eroded and that has led to many trees falling into the river,” according to a new release. “Downed trees create strainers, which is where turbulent water flows through the tree. A person caught in a strainer can quickly find themselves pinned against the tree or even swept underneath it. It is extremely difficult to rescue yourself from a strainer and typically requires emergency help from trained rescue personnel.”
Last year there were two deaths on the Kings River in Fresno County — a boating accident involving a teenager and a drowning in Reedley.
All recreational activity such as boating, canoeing, kayaking, swimming and floating is banned until further notice, with violators facing fines of up to $225.
Tulare and Kings County has also closed portions of the Kings River in the interest of public safety.