The Kern River is running at a dangerously high and fast rate, as are other western-slope rivers fat with surging spring runoff from the Sierra Nevada. Parts of the Kings and Tule rivers have been shut down in Kings, Tulare and Fresno counties, and now there’s discussion about doing the same on the Kern, where three people drowned over the Memorial Day weekend. Our editors went to The Californian’s Facebook page to ask readers whether they thought the Kern River should be closed to recreational activity, such as tubing and swimming. Here are a few of their responses:
Krissy Warren: No. It should remain open to professional water guides and those who are on the water with them. And a system of ticketing those in the water without a professional guide — an astronomical ticket for adults who allow children in the water without proper safety precautions — should be implemented.
Larry Miller: Stupid people will still break the law. Just stop the S&R (Search and Rescue) services. Why punish those who are using it safely because others choose to be stupid? Soon we will have to check the regulations to see if it is OK to pee.
Jen Smith-Zike: Omg, everyone stop freaking out about stupid people dying in the river. They know the risk getting in and that shouldn’t ruin it for everybody else. People have been dying in that river for a long time and only now it’s a concern! The powers that be need to stop trying to control everything.
Tanya Whitehouse: People who go whitewater rafting for recreation know that there are risks, and could run rapids in other locations, too. It’s relatively safe, but there is always danger when in nature. People die skiing, too.
Laura Jean: No, thin the herd. Warnings are abundant. People need to learn the hard way apparently. I only have sympathy for kids because their parents should have known better and kept them out.
Sara Marie: Closed or not, stupid people will still find a way in. People are drowning each day and the stupid ones still go in. What will closing do?
Jason Smith: It is sad people die and sadder people do not heed warning signs, and historical data leading to the unfortunate end that typically happens. However for those of us that do heed the signs and take the precautions necessary to secure us and our families’ safety why should we be penalized for those that choose not to?
Monica Rodriguez: Why not implement a day pass that would require a 5-minute talk and the requirement of a life jacket? Use our tax money for several booths instead of frequent rescue efforts.
MacWhinney: No way should this be closed! We all grew up with this knowing how dangerous it was. There are professionals that could totally benefit (as river guides).
Benjamin Wheeler: Absolutely not. Safety knowledge is a prerequisite obligation to any person who is bringing him(self) and his family. Some small minority of our local citizen population failing to employ common sense in their recreational safety. That does not lay basis to change our current laws.
Kimberley Anne Diaz: Maybe people would think twice if emergency services were not available to fish them out.
Josh Thomas: Why would we close it just because there’s people stupid enough to go in when and where they shouldn’t?
Shirley Given: No. It is posted unsafe. Common sense SHOULD prevail. If it doesn’t, refer back to Laura Jean’s post.
Faith Hope Love: They should charge the idiots the cost of the resources and manpower to save them.
Christine Barraza King: Yes! People don’t know how to stay out and put the rescuers’ lives in danger. 😢
Ritch Murrell: It won’t matter. People will still be stupid enough to go in. People will still die.
Staci Hunsucker: YES, especially in the canyon. Nobody has any business up there unless you’re a professional rafter or kayaker.
Stacey Maretich: It should be closed. The river is very deceptive. You can’t really tell by just looking at it how dangerous it is.
Catie Lee: Close it all you want, people will still go into it, because they can’t read “do not enter, do not swim, wear a life jacket,” etc.
Dan Murphy: No. People should learn to obey the signs. If they don’t, let them drown. Teach them a lesson. If that’s too harsh, then fine them and or jail them!
Karen Ellery: No. If people are stupid enough to ignore the warnings that it’s dangerous nothing is going to stop them from getting in the river.
Susan Chaidez: Who’s going to police it? Short-staffed deputies of the Kern County Sheriff’s Department? No money. No extra bodies.
Brenda K. Newman: My late friend’s mother drowned herself in Kern River. That was over 20 years ago. Can’t stop them.
Matt Bornong: You can’t police stupidity.
Dottie Mrstm: No, it’s a form of natural selection.
Daniel Celedon: Of course. Just build a wall that borders the river. It’ll keep everyone out.
Chandra Beaty: People are still stupid enough to not obey the law even if it is closed.
James R. Perez: Natural selection.
Tonya Ogletree: No it shouldn’t. People should be able to read and obey the signs. Parents should be able to control their children. End of story.
Kelly Trani: Yes I think so. Only go in with professional water guides specially when it’s running this high and fast.
Jeni Walsh: Uh, no. It’s not our fault people get in on their own and end up dying. Locals know where to go and where it’s safe.
Sherry Brown: People can’t be responsible enough to stay out on their own.
Brian Renninger: No. If people are too stupid to know when NOT TO GO IN, it is their fault if something happens to them.
Katrina Barnum Huckins: Yes. Close it.
Todd W. Michael: Life jackets.
Joshua Blair: Just thinning out the gene pool.
Leigh Ann Dwayne Howell: People will go in anyway!
Rick Lopez Jimenez: Darwinism.
Steve Irwin: Natural selection
Chuck Wetteroth: Just culling the herd!
Vincent Liu: Big government wants to control everything!