Challis, Idaho: On April 17, Forest Service personnel conducted a reconnaissance flight of Marsh Creek from Dagger Falls to Highway 21.
They observed the following:
· One tree approximately ½ mile below the confluence of Bear Valley Creek and Marsh Creek lying from bank to bank.
· Five trees lying from bank to bank above the confluence of Bear Valley Creek and Marsh creek, with one being about a ¼ mile below the launch site on Highway 21.
· An additional six trees span at least half way across Marsh Creek.
· The Idaho Fish and Game fish trap was in place about ½ mile below the Highway 21 put in site.
This should not be regarded as a complete list of the obstacles or hazards. The observers may not have seen all down trees. Also, this is a very dynamic system; additional trees will fall and those in the stream will be moved by high water.
Spring boaters use Marsh Creek as one way of accessing the Middle Fork of the Salmon River when the Boundary Creek Road is closed by snow. If you plan to boat Marsh Creek and the Middle Fork, please exercise extreme caution. Marsh Creek is fast flowing and the water is very cold. Bends and curves hide obstacles until you are very close. High banks and no eddies make it very difficult to halt your descent and exit the stream in time. Scouting is essential for all blind curves. Please ensure you and the members of your party are highly skilled boaters with appropriate early season protective equipment such as dry suits, helmets, warm clothing, etc. Typically, highly maneuverable kayaks or similar boats that enable you to avoid obstacles or to hold your position in the stream will lessen your chance of a serious incident.
Each year, boaters have serious accidents and close calls on Marsh Creek and the upper Middle Fork. Too often these result in a fatality. If rescue becomes necessary, it will be slow due to communications, access, location and capability of aircraft, and lack of landing zones. Darkness and weather could further delay rescue and diminish the chance of survival.
The Forest Service does not remove trees from Marsh Creek or the Middle Fork of the Salmon River. Boaters are not prohibited from removing trees; however, within Wilderness this must be done using non-motorized tools. The boundary for the Frank Church –River of No Return Wilderness is approximately 1 mile downstream from the Highway 21 launch site. When you enter the Wilderness, it is illegal to use a chainsaw or have it in your possession. Traditional tools such as crosscut saws, axes, come-alongs and/or block and tackle are allowed.
Prepare carefully and boat within your abilities. We want to see you again next year.
For more information on current conditions, please contact the Middle Fork Ranger District at 208-879-4101 or visit the Floating the Middle Fork of the Salmon River webpage.