UPDATE - Debris could enter Lake Pend Oreille, boaters should use caution

Published May 18, 2017
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ officials have declared the log-boom breach at the Clark Fork Drift Facility an emergency and are warning boaters to watch out for logs and other floating debris on Lake Pend Oreille. Logs and debris from the Clark Fork River may pass through the breach.  Floating and submerged logs and debris can be a safety hazard for all recreational boating activities.

The Corps gathers most debris from the Clark Fork before it enters the lake and stores it in the Clark Fork Drift Facility until it can be disposed. Part of the Drift Facility consists of shear booms, a barrier of logs chained together to contain debris. A breach in the shear boom system was discovered May 4 during periodic inspections. The breach could allow logs and smaller debris to enter the upper lake.

Emergency repairs have been hindered by high river flows from recent storm activity and snowmelt runoff.  Corps’ officials are planning maintenance with work expected to commence as flows decrease and make repairs possible. 

Until the breach is fully repaired, the Corps advises boaters and the public to use caution, and be alert for logs and debris which can float just beneath the water surface. The cause of the breach is under investigation.

Hazards such as logs and debris are always an issue in water bodies.  Boaters and people recreating on or in the lake should always take caution. Although the Corps tries to reduce the number of floating and submerged logs and debris, total elimination of these dangers is not possible.

The Corps of Engineers is the largest provider of water-based outdoor recreation in the nation. Lake Pend Oreille is one of 403 lakes and river projects in 43 states on which the Corps provides a diverse range of recreational opportunities.

“Safety is a top priority at Corps lakes and we want boaters to be aware of, and on the lookout for, debris that may enter Lake Pend Oreille,” said Albeni Falls Dam Operations Project Manager Ryne Linehan.

Scott Lawrence

Release no. 17-020