BLM Warns of Public Safety Risk at Merced River Recreation Site

EL DORADO HILLS, Calif. June 30, 2017 – The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Mother Lode Field Office is posting warnings at the Cable Rock day-use area and other recreation sites along the Merced River due to an increased risk of water-related fatalities and injuries. Record rain and historic snowpack in the Sierra Nevada is melting, which is turning the Merced River into an extremely high, cold, and swift-moving waterway, with treacherous rocks and rapids downstream.

“The Merced River is flowing at four times the normal level, which is creating very powerful currents that can easily sweep you off your feet,” advises Mother Lode Field Manager William Haigh. “Among BLM’s goals are to provide a safe and secure environment for the public, employees and public land users, so we encourage visitors to stay out of the Merced River during this dangerous runoff season.”

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The Mariposa County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue Team has responded recently to several public safety incidents at the day-use recreation site. Cable Rock Recreation Site has a small rock beach that is a popular swimming area, but is located directly above a stretch of white water rapids. View a map of the Merced River Recreation Area at: https://on.doi.gov/2trve9N.

The Briceburg Visitor Center upstream, along with the McCabe Flat, Willow Placer, and Railroad Flat campgrounds downstream of Cable Rock remain open, but the public is warned that life jackets are essential, swimming is discouraged, and you should enter the water at your own risk. The frigid waters can cause a rapid loss of body heat known as hypothermia, which can be deadly. BLM staff and law enforcement will be patrolling the area.

According to recreation.gov, water-related accidents are among the most common cause of death in some of our nation’s most visited parks, forests and waterways. Learn more about water safety at http://bit.ly/2smjAha.

In addition to dangerous water conditions, rattlesnakes are found throughout the river area, and hikers and campers should be careful where they put their hands and feet.

The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land, the most of any Federal agency. This land, known as the National System of Public Lands, is primarily located in 12 Western states, including Alaska.