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Here’s where you can (and can’t) get in the Kings River this holiday week

See why getting in the river could be a deadly decision

Swift water rescue team members trained on the Kings River at Kings Canyon National Park's Cedar Grove last week, but because of the heavy spring runoff, there are times when they may not be able to help.
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Swift water rescue team members trained on the Kings River at Kings Canyon National Park's Cedar Grove last week, but because of the heavy spring runoff, there are times when they may not be able to help.

The Kings River is now open for recreation in Kings County, the Kings County Sheriff’s Office announced Tuesday.

The Kings River remains closed in Fresno and Tulare counties.

In Fresno County, the Kings River closure extends from Pine Flat Dam to the Tulare and Kings County lines.

“There are no immediate plans to reopen the river based upon the latest information from the Army Corps of Engineers, which controls water releases at Pine Flat Dam,” said Tony Botti, spokesman for the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office, on Monday. “Pine Flat Lake is currently close to 95% capacity. With increasing temperatures forecast for later this week, more snowmelt is expected to fill the lake. Therefore, more water will likely be released downstream into the Kings River, increasing the Cubic Feet Per Second (CFS) flow.

“Our office does not want to open the river and then have to close it again. Once we reopen it, we plan to keep it open for the rest of the season. To reiterate, public access to the river is denied until further notice. This includes all recreational activity such as: Boating, canoeing, kayaking, swimming, floating, etc.”

Fishing from the shore in the Fresno County section is permitted.

How to stay safe

The Kings County Sheriff’s Office shared some tips to stay safe, including always wearing a life vest if floating in the river and not entering the water if not a good swimmer.

“Waterways in Kings County, although cool and refreshing, can also be a deadly encounter with tragic consequences,” officials said.

Officials talked about the importance of using good rafting equipment, including an oar, if floating down the river.

“Cheap, inexpensive blow-up rafts and pool toys can be a deadly choice if you find yourself caught up in the heavily brushed banks and shore edges of the Kings River. These inexpensive rafts and pool toys can be easily punctured causing them to deflate.”

In addition, pay attention to weirs in the area where floating because going over one can meet “with injury and tragic results.”

Officials also warned against mixing alcohol with swimming and floating.

“Remember, water activities and alcohol do not mix! Alcohol-related offenses such as drunk in public, driving under the influence or any other alcohol related issue will be strictly enforced.”

Questions can be directed to the Kings County Sheriff’s Office Water Rescue Unit at 559-469-2875.

Fresno County officials also warned about the dangers of eroding riverbanks and downed trees.

“Downed trees create strainers, which is where turbulent water flows through the tree. A person caught in a strainer can quickly find themselves pinned against the tree or even swept underneath it.”

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