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Middle Fork stretch closed due to safety concerns

King County has closed a stretch of the Middle Fork of the Snoqualmie River near North Bend due to dangerous river conditions.

The stretch is a popular place for kayaking and inner tubing.

The King County Sheriff’s Office has announced the emergency closure to all recreation on the Middle Fork, from river mile 1.4 to river mile 1.9, which is immediately downstream of the popular “blue hole” swimming area near Southeast 114th Street in North Bend.

Erosion of a steep stream bank at the downstream end of this section of the Middle Fork caused four trees to topple into the river, posing a serious safety threat to river users. The new obstruction is on the river near the east end of Southeast 108th Street, east of Pickett Avenue Northeast in North Bend.

River closure signs have been placed upstream of the site at several potential put-ins for river users, and additional warning signs have been placed immediately upstream of the trees, near river mile 1.5. The closure will remain in effect until conditions improve.

King County’s Water and Land Resources Division expects to have the trees removed by helicopter in about a week.

“Public safety is our top priority. Recreationists need to know that these are dynamic river systems, and conditions are always changing,” said Theresa Jennings, director of the King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks.

“The rivers in King County are extremely dangerous this time of year,” stated King County Sheriff Sue Rahr. “They are running very fast and are very cold. Plus, there is a tremendous amount of debris after the winter rains and floods. We urge people to stay off the rivers until conditions get better.”

Even though air temperatures are warming up, rivers, lakes and Puget Sound all remain extremely cold. The King County Public Health office urges people to use extreme caution around open water.

For more information on water safety and drowning prevention, visit www.kingcounty.gov/health.

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