County Pulse

County Pulse: As reservoirs disappoint, rafting should stay afloat

kcarlson@modbee.comMarch 14, 2014 

    alternate textKen Carlson
    Title: Staff writer
    Coverage areas: County government, health and medicine, air quality, the environment and public pension systems
    Bio: Ken Carlson has worked 13 years for The Bee, covering local government agencies in Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties. His in-depth reporting has focused on access to health care and public employee pensions.
    Recent stories written by Ken

Because of dismal water levels, not as many people will flock to the reservoirs this year.

David Voortman, who owns River Journey Adventures at Knights Ferry, predicted the drought won’t have such a harsh effect on rafting on the Stanislaus River. He said there should be enough flow for rafting and kayaking through the summer.

It appears almost certain that Woodward Reservoir north of Oakdale will be closed to water recreation this year. At Don Pedro, two boat ramps won’t be used and measures are being taken to prepare for some of the lowest lake levels seen in decades.

Voortman, who sent an email that was clearly promoting his raft and tube rental business, gave several objective reasons to expect decent river flows. Water will be released in the Stanislaus from upstream dams April 15 to May 15 to create the springtime pulse flows for fisheries. He noted that government agencies are releasing water to address salinity problems in the Delta.

“If they need to release water for the Delta region or fisheries, it is going to come from the Stanislaus,” Voortman said.

The business owner said the “string of pearls” parks along the Stanislaus River should not be hit too hard by the drought.

The water level will be lower than normal, but “expect raftable flows all summer,” he said.

In previous years, Voortman said, he has noticed more water going downstream when the Oakdale Irrigation District sold water to buyers outside the region. The district holds water rights on the Stanislaus and is under more scrutiny this year over out-of-district transfers.

During drier conditions, the relaxing excursions on the Stanislaus near Knights Ferry are kept shorter. That way, not so much paddling is necessary. Make sure to bring plenty of water and sunscreen.

Bee staff writer Ken Carlson can be reached at or (209) 578-2321.

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