Several weeks ago the Redding City Council took the unusual step of compromising between competing interests to determine a safety guideline as to when boating traffic should be prohibited at the construction site on the Cypress Street Bridge. The Council voted to prohibit boat traffic through the construction site when the river flows exceeded 7000 cfs. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation increased the flows to 7000 cfs this week, indicating that flows at this level or higher will continue until next fall. Hence the river is now closed to boating traffic under the Cypress Street Bridge.
In my previous post on this topic, I had noted that the California Department of Boating and Waterways had recommended the complete boating closure at the construction site due to safety concerns. The designated passage under the construction trestle allows for only a 20 foot passage in an area of tricky cross-currents. Most driftboats have an oar tip to oar tip expanse of 23 feet.
The Shasta County Sheriff’s office recommended that the bridge be closed to boating at 5000 cfs, citing concerns about vertical clearance and problems that would accompany any rescue efforts.
The citizen’s advisory committee, which consisted of 8 driftboat fishing guides, kayakers and rafters, recommended closure at 10,000 cfs.
Somehow the the City Council decided that the appropriate guideline for safety would be somewhere in between, at 7000 cfs. That meant that the river remained open the day the decision was made, and its closure was subject to speculation. It was only a matter of days before the closure did occur though.
As a person who has fished this stretch of the river many times over the years, and as a person who looks out directly at the construction site everyday from my office, I don’t believe that compromises should be made when safety is the issue.