Take a look at what the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office and Mesa County Search and Rescue pulled from the Colorado River yesterday. Here are a few things to look for before hitting the river.

This snag was under the 32 Road bridge on the Colorado River. Personally, I had to look at the picture for a few moments before I saw it. I was so caught up looking at the branches collecting on the abutment I didn't see the branch extending all the way across the river. With that in mind, someone floating the river may have had an equally difficult time seeing it.

While driving over the 29 Road bridge in Grand Junction last weekend I spotted six people floating the river. In addition to that, there were at least five people swimming in the river just east of the bridge. In other words, Western Colorado residents are getting out and enjoying time on the water.

Here's a short checklist of things to watch for, courtesy of outdoorexcursions.com.

  • Water temperature: Regardless of how warm it is outdoors, the water can be extremely cold.
  • Strainers such as limbs, downed trees, tree roots, debris, and root balls along the bank will allow water to pass through but can trap a person or watercraft.
  • Watch out for any upcoming hazards to have plenty of time to avoid them
  • Avoid foot entrapments by not standing up or walking in fast-moving shallow water.
  • Assume either the aggressive or safe swimming position with feet up and downstream.
  • Should you flip, stay upstream of your kayak or canoe. A boat full of water can weight 1,000 pounds.

Please keep an eye on the Mesa County Sheriff's Office Facebook page. They do an excellent job of updating the public about water hazards and closures. Notifications are usually accompanied by detailed maps. Even I can figure out their maps, and I'm the guy who got lost in downtown Grand Junction last year (I was born at 14th and Grand in downtown GJ and have lived here my entire life.)

Let's make this the best and safest spring/summer ever. Many of us look forward to hitting the water. A little caution and a few proactive measures make a universe of difference on the river.

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