Guide: Avoid Marten Rapids on McKenzie River

Guide: Avoid Marten Rapids on McKenzie River
In this August 2007 picture provided by Ouzel Outfitters, rafters ride down the McKenzie River in Oregon. (File AP Photo/Ouzel Outfitters)

LEABURG, Ore. -- Two large logs have obstructed the rapids on a stretch of the McKenzie River popular with anglers and boaters, creating a hazard for serious injury, said the head guide at a Eugene-based river outfitter.

"Avoid running Marten Rapids unless (you) are very skilled," said Frank Armendariz, head guide and manager at Oregon River Sports. "I would put that in big caps and really emphasize it."

The log obstruction make the rapid too dangerous for most boaters -- right on the eve of trout season, which opens Saturday.

"It's in the most popular section that people want to boat and fish in between Blue River and Leaburg," Armendariz said.

He recommended ending trips above the obstruction at Ben and Kate Dorris Park or starting below the obstruction at Prince Helfrich boat landing. | MAP

One of the trees, an old cedar with a large root wad, lodged in Marten Rapids last year and caused problems for some boaters.

"We did rescue a couple of parties off the rocks up at Martens," Armendariz said of the 2008 season. No one was hurt, and all the gear was recovered.

That might not be the case this year unless boaters exercise due caution: Just in time for the 2009 rafting and fishing season, the cedar has moved across the channel and been joined by a second log.

"The channel is severely restricted," Armendariz told KVAL News. "If somebody doesn't make that cut, the potential for really a serious injury there is really high right now."

Armendariz said Oregon River Sports has worked with the Oregon Marine Board to develop a plan to remove portions of the trees from the channel.

Right now, the water is too high and too cold to allow that work to happen, he said, so Marten Rapids is "not a rapid that a recreational boater should be considering at this time," Armendariz said.