Mariposa, CA — The Bureau of Land Management reports that warning signs are going up at the Cable Rock day-use area in Mariposa County, and other recreation sites along the Merced River, due to an increased risk for water related injuries and fatalities.
BLM Mother Lode Field Manager William Haigh says, “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…so we encourage visitors to stay out of the Merced River during this dangerous runoff season.”
The Mariposa County Sheriff’s Office has recently responded to several incidents at the Cable Rock Recreation site, in particular. Cable Rock has a small beach and is a popular swimming area, but it is located above a stretch of whitewater rapids.
The BLM reports that the Briceburg Visitor Center upstream, along with McCabe Flat, Willow Placer, and Railroad Flat campgrounds, downstream, remain open, but life jackets are essential, swimming is discouraged, and you should enter the water at your own risk.
In Yosemite National Park, officials are also urging extreme caution when visiting over the coming weeks.
Alan Hageman, with Yosemite’s search and rescue team, says, “The water is extremely unforgiving, and if you find yourself in a current, think of a powerful freight train rushing through the valley, you’re going to be carried along with it, and survival is really in doubt.”
The historic snowpack in the Sierra Nevada is melting, which is turning rivers and streams into an extremely high, cold and swift moving waterway. Heavy snowpack runoff is expected to continue through around mid-July.