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GF&P Looking To Close Dangerous River

September 3, 2010, 6:04 PM by Austin Hoffman

GF&P Looking To Close Dangerous River
BELLE FOURCHE, SD - Local and state officials are taking action to close an area of the Belle Fourche River that's proven dangerous.

Earlier this summer, turbulent water at the river's diversion dam pulled three people under the surface, drowning them. The only survivor, 8-year-old Isabella Rogers, walked for two hours back to find help.

The end of June, Jeramy Rogers, his 11-year old daughter, Sierra, and friend, Andrew Korth, were sucked under turbulent waters at the Belle Fourche Diversion Dam and never resurfaced. Now the Game Fish & Parks department is looking at a plan to keep boaters away from the area around the dam.

"We're in the process right now of drafting regulations that would close the Belle Fourche river from Highway 212, east, north easterly, to a point just beyond downstream of the Belle Fourche District Diversions Dam," Mike Kintigh with the Game Fish & Parks department said.

Kintigh said the Game Fish & Parks Commission will look at those regulations this winter, and if passed, will close the river starting next year for good. The Butte County Sheriff's office has already temporarily closed that portion of the river that's about a mile long.

"Our intention there is to prevent further tragedies in the future, and the best way just seems to be to close that whole stretch," Kintigh said.

The three people that died earlier this summer weren't the first people to have problems at the dam.

"One involved a man and a woman, a husband and wife, that went over the structure in kayaks, that was earlier this year, I believe in April. Prior to that, there's been one incident that I know of and that was several years back," Kintigh said.

All reasons, he said, that it's time to take action to keep outdoor enthusiasts safe and alive.

Kintigh said the process in closing the river has been complicated because several agencies have a hand in the diversion dam. But an internal review found the Game Fish & Parks has control over allowing public access.

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