Despite reduced traffic along the Illinois River due to heat warnings, Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Commission Rangers responded to several medical evacuation calls.
“We received the first call early on Friday,” said OSRC Ranger Supervisor Capt. Bill James. “As usual, the injury was due to a floater failing to take the advice of the operators and rangers to not dive from the banks or jump from rope or cable swings. Over the weekend, we had several more of the same types of call.”
James said others who chose to float the river over the weekend seemed to have a good time, and the rangers didn’t receive any calls on the water due to unruly behavior.
“Overall it was a very quiet weekend,” said James. “Even with the hot weather, this is a really good time to bring the family or your church groups out to enjoy the scenic beauty of the river. Traffic is light and everything is very peaceful.”
According to OSRC reports for the weekend, rangers made three DUI arrests, five arrests for public drunk, one drug-related arrest, jailed one person for resisting arrest, and arrested two for obstructing an officer. Rangers wrote 11 citations, and issued 23 warnings.
James reminded visitors of permitting requirements, saying those who bring their own kayaks, canoes or tubes need either day-use permits, which are $1 per day, or annual permits, which are $10. Either can be purchased at OSRC headquarters or the Illinois River Store, on Scenic State Highway 10.
“Also, for those [interested in fishing], this is a really good time to try their luck,” said James. “There is lots of free bait available around the river. All you need is to bring the kids to catch your grasshoppers while you catch that lunker. I saw several good stringers of catfish and bass this weekend, and those who caught them said they’d used grasshoppers as bait.”
Cherokee County commissioners instituted a 30-day burn ban July 24, and other counties within the Illinois River watershed, including Delaware and Adair counties, have burn bans in place.
James said it’s important for visitors to remember to be mindful of the restrictions.
“Just a reminder that during the burn ban, no fires are allowed, this also includes charcoal,” said James. “If you plan to have a cookout, please bring a gas grill or cooker so Smokey the Bear does not have to come remind you about the burn ban.”
Violations can result in misdemeanor charges punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $500, according to the Cherokee County resolution, although state statutes allow for a fine of up to $1,000.
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