Tulare County bans boats in Kings River due to drought

The Fresno BeeMay 20, 2014 

Tulare County has closed the Kings River to motorized watercraft due to lack of water until further notice.

The ban went into effect Tuesday and will stay in place until there's water in the river, said Parks and Recreation Director Neil Pilegard.

Normally, the Kings River is open to boaters over the Memorial Day weekend, but that's not the case this year due to drought, he said. In fact, it appears the river isn't running at all, and what's there are pools of water, he said.

It's unknown when flows will resume, but the Army Corps of Engineers is expected to release water from Pine Flat Dam in June, he said.

All-terrain vehicles and motorcycles are prohibited in the riverbed, he said. The Tulare County Sheriff's Department will enforce the bans.

Fresno County has no restrictions on boating in the river, Sheriff's Sgt. Richard Wilhoite said. However, the lack of water has made boating impossible, he said.

Unlike Tulare County, Fresno County has put no restrictions in place regarding use of ATVs or motorcycles in the river channel, he said.

The corps has told local officials that irrigation water will start flowing in June, but there won't be enough water for boating until July, he said.

The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6104, lgriswold@fresnobee.com or @fb_LewGriswold on Twitter.

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