The Rogue River is running unusually low for this time of year, but boating season will take place as usual, according to a spokesperson for the river management team.
The lower Rogue's Wild and Scenic Section, downstream from Grants Pass, is jointly managed by the Medford District of the Bureau of Land Management and the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest.
The BLM had river managers floating the river just last week. The main observation?
"You will see more rocks and will have to paddle a lot more in the flat sections,'' said Becky Brown, who works for the BLM at the river's Smullin Visitor Center at Rand.
She made another interesting point, noting that before two dams were built, the river ran lower than it will get this year and boating went on.
The Rogue River was one of eight rivers in the original 1968 federal designation of wild and scenic rivers. Its boating history dates far earlier, with the first mail boat on the river in 1895.
In 1977, Lost Creek Reservoir was constructed. A few years later, Applegate Dam was built on the Applegate River, one of the main Rogue tributaries.
Water from those reservoirs is released slowly through the summer to keep stable flows in the river and to not allow the water temperature to rise above 68 degrees. That keeps the fish runs healthy and, as a side benefit, keeps enough water in the river for rafter, kayakers and other types of boats, including the jet boat excursions from Grants Pass and Gold Beach.
If the first mail boat captain could negotiate the river by rowing, poling, pushing, pulling and by sail, modern rafters will be able to get down the Rogue River this summer.
And if you hold a coveted noncommercial river permit and wish to cancel, another 50 parties would likely be waiting to snatch it up.
With that said, here's how Brown assesses the coming boating season on the Rouge:
"The river is lower than normal right now but is definitely runnable. And I imagine it will be runnable all season, though it could get lower than some people expect.
"We always recommend scouting Blossom Bar,'' she said, naming the river's most famous rapids. "Even if you've run it many times, we recommend getting out and scouting no matter how much experience you have.''
The Rogue River information office at Rand opens Tuesday, May 5, which gives the river management team time to gear up for the beginning of the annual regulated use season on May 15.
"On our recent float we saw plenty of water,'' Brown said. "It does not match the doom and gloom being published for it and other rivers. When that kind of word gets out, commercial river guides find that potential customers don't even call. It's just not that bad. The Rouge has been run in far lower water levels than we will see this year."
As of Friday, April 10, the Rogue River gauge at Grants Pass was reading 1,460 cubic feet per second.
Other statistics for the same date include an all-time low flow of 1,050 cfs (in 1977, the year the dam was completed), a median reading of 4,090 cfs, and a maximum flow in 1984 of 9,310 cfs.