After a spate of drownings and rescues on local rivers this summer, Chelan County is taking steps to help reduce distress calls and prevent further tragedies.

Chelan County Commissioner Bob Bugert says the mitigations are multiple and being implemented this week.

“At this time, we’re getting some signage out on the river itself as to areas that are hazardous (and) where the appropriate put-ins and take-outs are. Often, many people pass the take-out – not seeing it coming up or they’re not adequately prepared.”

Bugert adds the strategies for minimizing the issues occurring on the county’s rivers extend to the shoreline as well.

“We’re also putting up some reader board signs at the take-ins to inform people about some of the hazards, (and) we’re increasing our engagement of getting loner personal floatation devices. Because that is just essential when the water is this cold and moving that quickly.”

The actions come following a July 20 meeting in Leavenworth regarding enhanced river safety strategies involving a dozen local, state and federal agencies; Including the Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Forest Service, Chelan County Sheriff’s Office, Chelan County Fire Districts 3, 6, and 9, the City of Leavenworth, the Leavenworth Chamber of Commerce, and Cascade Medical.

Bugert says the county will convene another meeting in September to assess the effectiveness of its actions and discuss further steps it might take to enhance river safety in the future.

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