As the Weber River through Morgan County becomes more of a hot spot for tubers and rafters, emergency calls and incidents on the river are also increasing for Morgan Emergency crews.
“Overall it is getting to be a problem because there are so many people up there,” said Terry Turner, Morgan emergency services director. “On weekends it is pretty crowded.”
Last year, Morgan emergency crews responded to six incidents on the river. Already this year, the county has seen a total of six, two just in the last week, and Turner expects more before the year is through.
Due to the fire near Taggarts, a portion of the Weber River was closed to recreationists as logs burned, upsetting rocks that fell from the mountainside into the river. The river was closed Tuesday and Wednesday from Henefer to Taggarts.
Floating the 5.5 miles of river from Taggart to Morgan takes about two hours, while going from Henefer to Taggart is another 5.5 miles and two hours.
The most popular spots for running the river are between Devils Slide and the Morgan County Fairgrounds. Three tubing companies and four rafting companies specialize in floating the river here, and hundreds of individuals come on their own, Turner said.
For the last four years, the county has been beefing up its swift water team, providing training and equipment, Turner said.
Many times the floatation device gets swept away from its rider, leaving the rider stranded on the banks. When other recreationists see an empty tube or watercraft on the river, they fear a drowning has occurred. Turner said it is best to call for help, and not wait.
The best piece of advice Turner has for those running the river are that alcohol and river riding do not mix.
Another thing to remember is that like any other sport or recreation activity, having the right equipment is imperative. Cheap pool toys don’t hold up well to the choppy waters of floating the river.
Turner said canoes often get stuck and left on the rocks at Devils Slide, causing others to panic at the sight of an empty watercraft. Often to stop the calls, county crews simply remove the left-behind canoe.
Empty canoes are not the only things tubers and rafters leave behind. Too often they also leave beer cans, flip flops, trash and broken pool toys.