Expect A (Very) Late Start To Boise River Float Season

May 30, 2017

Young and old enjoy a trip down the Boise River in 2016. Near-record high flows in the river this year are expected to delay the start of float season until well into July.
Credit Float the Boise River / Facebook

With summer unofficially here, it’s almost the time of year to float the Boise River. However, with the river still running well above flood stage and untold amounts of debris collecting along the waterway, it’ll probably be a while before kayaks and tubes are allowed to make that lazy trip downstream.

Usually, float season starts around the first day of summer; this year the solstice is June 20. When the Boise River was running abnormally high in 2011, the season didn't begin until mid-July. Given the consistently high flow of the river over the last several months and plenty of mountain snow still waiting to melt, Ada County Parks and Waterways director Scott Koberg tells the Statesman his department expects this will likely be one of -- if not the -- latest starts to the season ever.

This morning, the Boise River was flowing around 8,260 cubic feet per second at the Glenwood Bridge; float season can only commence when the river is at 1,500 cfs with ideal conditions coming around 1,250 cfs.

The short float season will impact the county's Department of Parks and Waterways bottom line. It's the biggest source of income for the department, even eclipsing the share of general property taxes it receives.

When the river finally does slow to 1,500 cfs, Parks and Waterways will have a clearer picture of when float season will start. First, they'll evaluate what needs to be done to make the Boise River safe for floaters. Then, once they come up with a plan, the Boise Fire Department will help remove debris and hazards from the waterway and the season can open. No matter how late conditions set up, float season traditionally wraps up on Labor Day.

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