The 2006 Pistol Creek Rapids Log Jam

Mile 21

Watch a 9-minute video that includes dynamiting the log jam.
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Watch a clip from the show on the log jam. Hi-bandwidth
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log jam at pistol creek rapidIn July of 2006, a powerful rainstorm blew out tiny Lake Creek, dislodging debris and dead trees, and hurtling logs down the Middle Fork, where they completely bottled up popular Pistol Creek rapid.

This created an interesting dilemma for the Forest Service and for the several hundred boaters who were now stuck behind the log jam!

Forest Service officials were quick to get to the log jam, since some of them were already on the river, awaiting the arrival of several Washington, D.C. officials who had planned to fly in to Indian Creek airstrip later that day.

forest service worker trying to dislodge logsSeveral members of the Outdoor Idaho crew also happened to be on the river. We therefore had an excellent opportunity to document the unfolding drama.

It was a classic management dilemma. Do you do nothing and let nature take its course? After all, this is an official wilderness area. Or is your first concern the health and safety of the hundreds of people stranded behind the logjam?

And the floaters also had a dilemma. Should they sit tight and wait, knowing what we've all heard about the inability of the federal government to move fast. Or should they begin making arrangements to get the thousands of pounds of gear down the trail and around the blocked rapid, which was a distance of about half a mile.

dynamite explosion to break up log jamThe logjam formed early Monday morning. By Wednesday evening the logjam was cleared. Only dynamite could have cleared it that fast. At least one small group of rafters did haul their gear around the logjam, and another paid a nearby rancher several hundred dollars to haul their gear on horses. But most decided to take their chances waiting for the Forest Service to clear the blockage.

Watch a 9 minute video segment that includes the dynamiting of the Pistol Creek log jam.

You can also read a report from John Haugh, dynamite expert with the Forest Service, on the decision to use explosives in the wilderness.

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