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Despite Drought, Officials Warn Kern River Is Still Deadly

Kern County Fire Department Facebook page

California’s drought has caused many lakes and rivers to drop to low levels; but officials say it hasn’t eliminated the risk of drowning. FM-89’s Jason Scott reports on why one local river is of particular concern.

The Kern River is one of many popular spots travelers will flock to to this Memorial Day weekend. But officials warn that despite the drought, the river can still be deadly, especially if people ignore safety precautions.

Al Watson is a ranger with the Sequoia National Forest.  He says the river can still pose a drowning hazard despite its low levels.  

Watson: “It’s a boulder field that this water is going through. It would be deceiving to think that the waters are safer now than they are during higher water events.” 

Watson’s insistence on river safety comes just one day after a woman rescued by emergency workers after her kayak capsized on the river.

Watson says people should still use extreme caution when entering the river and always remember to wear proper flotation devices when they choose to kayak or raft.

Earlier today, officials updated warning signs along the canyon that recognize the 271 people who have died on the river since 1968.  

Jason Scott was a local host of All Things Considered on Valley Public Radio.
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