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Stretch of Spokane River still closed

Fri., June 12, 2009, 5:52 p.m.

River between Harvard, Barker bridges “dangerous”

The Spokane River between the Harvard and Barker bridges was not reopened to floaters on Friday afternoon.

While city of Spokane Valley officials voted to open their portions of the river, the stretches within Spokane County remain closed, sheriff’s officials said.

Earlier reports indicated that Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich issued a statement, reopening that dangerous stretch of water from the Harvard Road put in, to the Barker Road bridge. That is not the case, said Detective Dave Thornburg.

“The county portions of the Spokane River will remain CLOSED!” Thornburg said in a release.

The stretch had been closed since June 2 because of high flows through a narrow passage under the Barker Bridge construction project.

The river flows have been reduced significantly in the past two weeks, and precautions are warranted.

Sheriff’s officials warned floaters to stay alert, as large debris may break loose as water levels go down, and float down river.

The Spokane River Canoe Classic, scheduled for Father’s Day, will end at Harvard Road rather than continue its traditional course down river.

“There’s so much construction debris at Barker Bridge we feel it’s dangerous, so we’re not sending our paddlers through there even though the river is open,” said John Schwartz of Mountain Gear, which sponsors the race. “One missed stroke, and you have a big problem.”

In Idaho, Avista has closed the gates at the Post Falls Damn, and the Q’Emlin Park boat launch is now open.

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