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Making the Middle Fork safer

A Chinook aircraft flown by a pilot from Columbia Helicopters lifts a log from the Middle Fork of the Snoqualmie River, extracting dangerous snags in the river on Thursday afternoon, June 4.  - Seth Truscott / Snoqualmie Valley Record
A Chinook aircraft flown by a pilot from Columbia Helicopters lifts a log from the Middle Fork of the Snoqualmie River, extracting dangerous snags in the river on Thursday afternoon, June 4.
— image credit: Seth Truscott / Snoqualmie Valley Record

The huge orange-and-white steel claw splashed into the water and closed around the trunk of a fallen tree.

Then, slowly at first, the tree trunk lifted into the air, trailing a curtain of water as it dangled from a 300-foot line, carried aloft by a huge Chinook helicopter.

The Middle Fork of the Snoqualmie River was the scene of an emergency log removal by air, Thursday afternoon, June 4. The King County Water and Land Resources Division and the King County Sheriffs Office hired Oregon-based Columbia Helicopters to perform the work.

Fallen trees had created dangerous conditions on the river, which has been closed for weeks to recreation.

Heavy stream bank erosion along this stretch of river caused several trees to fall into the river, which is a popular recreation spot.

The trees spanned the swiftest portion of the river, creating a dangerous situation in which swimmers, rafters and others could be swept into the limbs or trapped under them.

As the powerful current rushed past, the helicopter hovered above each downed log, the wash of its rotors knocking limbs and leaves from overhanging branches. When each big log was secured, it was moved to a new location along the bank to prevent further erotion.

At press time, there was no word as to when the Middle Fork would reopen for recreation.

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