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Downed tree closes Roaring Fork

Sheriff shuts down short section, citing safety

By Carrie Click



Post Independent Staff



CARBONDALE – An enormous cottonwood tree toppled across the Roaring Fork River Tuesday, blocking the river below the Catherine Store Road bridge east of Carbondale. Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario has closed a small section of the river to protect boaters.

The section of the river is along County Road 100, also known as Catherine Store Road, which runs east from Carbondale to Highway 82.

The river is closed at the river access point at the Catherine Store Bridge. Boaters will have to take out at that point. The river is open at the next available access downstream.

Vallario said Garfield County Search and Rescue was making signs Wednesday afternoon to post along the river upstream from the tree to warn boaters of the hazard and the river closure.

Vallario also said he was stationing his

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staff at the take-out immediately upriver from the Catherine Store Bridge until dusk Wednesday night to make certain boaters were alerted to the danger. He said staff would also be at the site all day Thursday, and until the tree could be removed.

Vallario said he closed the river section since it is difficult for boaters to see the tree until they are too close to take out safely.

“There’s an island and a curve in the river which makes the tree hard to see,” Vallario said.

Homeowner Jan Crowley, who lives along the riverbank, contacted Alan Czenkusch, an aquatic biologist with the Department of Wildlife, on Tuesday to report the fallen tree.

The Garfield County Sheriff’s Office is contacting the Crowleys, since the tree is on their property, to discuss removal.

Czenkusch said it appeared that beavers gnawed on the tree, which measures approximately 50 feet long by five in diameter. The beaver damage stressed the tree, causing it to develop root rot. Then gravity took over.

Large trees lying across rivers, called “strainers” in river jargon, are particularly hazardous to river runners since water can run over and around them, pulling and snagging people and kayaks, drift boats, dories and rafts into them. Portions of the tree are below the water.

Vallario said all boaters are urged to avoid this area until further notice.

Contact Carrie Click: 945-8515, ext. 518

cclick@postindependent.com


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