FORT COLLINS, Colo. (KDVR) – Just feet away from the Poudre River Whitewater Park in Fort Collins sits one of the most dangerous stretches of water in the area according to first responders.
But it’s not the speed or temperature of the water that’s the most concerning instead, it’s what’s in it, logs and limbs from the Cameron Peak burn scar.
“We rescued several people last year from a debris pileup that builds up right here,” said Annie Bierbower. “There was a patient that had become separated from her vessel and she was almost completely under the debris pile.”
Bierbower and Poudre Fire Authority said the majority of their 18 rescues last year happened at this very spot where railroad tracks cross the river just west of the Whitewater Park.
Logs and branches become tangled in the railroad trestles, which are now being cleared multiple times each summer.
The last cleaning happened on Monday, according to Bierbower, but debris has already started to accumulate.
“We are definitely seeing an increase not only in the amount but in the size of debris,” she said.
With water levels rising quickly, Bierbower is asking even experienced rafters and kayakers to avoid the area unless they’re with trained professionals.
She said nobody should be attempting to go from Legacy Park to Whitewater Park in current conditions.
“There’s a reason all that stuff is in one place. The river is taking it there, and it will take you there right along with it,” said Bierbower.
She said first responders have also run into issues with people tying tubes or rafts together and getting snagged in debris that way.
Until water levels subside, she recommends scouting out your path before you set sail and making sure you always have a life jacket no matter what.