Chelan County stakeholders held a community meeting in preparation for this year’s upcoming river recreation season in Leavenworth Tuesday.

Chelan County’s Natural Resources Department, Chelan County Commissioner Shon Smith, Chelan County Sheriff Mike Morrison, Chelan County Sheriff’s Office Chief Ryan Moody, Chelan County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Mike McLeod, the City of Leavenworth, Chelan County Fire District #3, and multiple other local stakeholders attended this River Recreation Safety Meeting.

On April 11, stakeholders discussed both their short-term and long-term goals in addressing river recreational safety surrounding Leavenworth and upper Wenatchee Valley areas.

Last Summer, increased water levels and a lack of river safety knowledge from tubers culminated in an increase in water rescue calls and drownings.

As a result of these incidences, stakeholders held a community meeting on river safety, resulting in the installation of an electronic reader board near the Wenatchee River that alerted recreationalists on where they can enter/exit the river and river conditions.

Chelan County Senior Natural Resource and Recreation Specialist Erin McKay said they want to get ahead of the curb on river safety, hoping to avoid the number of inexperienced riders that were on the water last year.

“They're thinking they're gonna go for a nice lazy river tubing outing and the water is 48 degrees and moving really quickly,” McKay said.

Action items on the agenda included installing signs near river exit points that alert riders to an upcoming exit point on the water, managing the life jacket stations near those exits, and to debrief riders on basic safety and etiquette before heading out on the water.

Long-term goals include increasing signage and posting outreach materials that detail basic river safety, including a map of both the Icicle and Wenatchee River detailing entry/exit points.

One concern McKay had about advertising river safety is making sure they avoid inadvertently marketing river recreation activities and increasing the amount of people floating on the water.

The City of Leavenworth will be paying for the signs while Chelan County and Chelan County Fire District #3 are responsible for installing the signs.

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