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High water levels mean high-risk activities

Officials warn the bridge jumping causes serious injuries, death
By: Jenifer Gee Journal Staff Writer
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High water levels at area hot spots may mean more recreation, but some are engaging in risky behavior. While bridge jumping is not a new activity to those who monitor State Parks land, it is a dangerous one they don’t condone. “It’s an activity we don’t allow inside the park,” said Dan Tynan, sector superintendent for Folsom Lake State Recreation Area. “It’s an unsafe activity.” Currently, tributaries and rivers leading down to Folsom Lake are flowing swiftly at high levels as snow melts and recent rainfall travel downstream. The amount of water following and collected has filled the lake almost 97 percent full, Tynan said. “It hasn’t been that high in ages,” Tynan said. While boaters and fishermen have already started taking advantage of the high water levels, so did a group of teenagers Tuesday afternoon. A group of teens, who declined to give their names, were taking turns jumping off Salmon Falls Bridge, located off Salmon Falls Road near Pilot Hill about 20 to 30 minutes outside of Auburn. The teens said they typically keep an eye out for law enforcement or State Parks rangers, but otherwise enjoy what they say is a popular summertime hangout. When asked whether they thought jumping off the bridge was dangerous, some said it was while others said it wasn’t. The group measured the distance from the bridge to water level with rope. On Tuesday it was about an 18-foot drop. Normally, one man said it’s about 55 to 60 feet. “Usually you can see the entire cement beams of the bridge,” Trevor Jones said. “This is probably the highest I’ve seen it.” Scott Liske, Auburn State Recreation Area ranger, said bridge jumping is an illegal activity that can result in arrest and other penalties and fines on top of serious injury. He added that jumping causes distractions to motorists on the bridge and swimmer or rafters below are typically not expecting someone to jump from above. Liske said oftentimes jumpers don’t think of the dangerous landing spot below. He said the ground is constantly changing throughout the day and rocks and holes can be in places people may not think of. “People see rocks and cliffs and think how much fun it would be jump off into the water,” Liske said. “I can think of the two fatalities and handful of serious injuries as a result of people bridge jumping.” The Journal’s Ben Furtado contributed to this story. Jenifer Gee can be reached at jeniferg@goldcountrymedia.com or post a comment. ---------- “People see rocks and cliffs and think how much fun it would be jump off into the water. I can think of the two fatalities and handful of serious injuries as a result of people bridge jumping.” — Scott Liske, Auburn State Recreation Area ranger ----------