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Float Season Off to a Slow Start Due to Cooler Spring

Buffalo River near Ponca, AR. /Credit: Scott Harvey

This is generally the most popular time of year for float trips and canoeing on area rivers. But as KSMU’s Theresa Bettmann reports, this spring’s weather has been less than cooperative. 

“If it’s not too high, it’s too cold.”

That’s Ellen Benham, owner of James River Outfitters in Galena, Missouri. She says reservations are down from this time last year because of cooler than usual spring temperatures.  Benham adds that with all of the recent rain, the river is too high and they’ve not been able to put many people out on the river yet.

Benham says while the season is getting off to a late start, the phone is “ringing off of the hook.”

“The river is looking really good, and we really did need the rain.  So this year is going to be really good I think,” says Benham.

Down in Ponca, Arkansas on the Buffalo River they are experiencing a similarly slow start.  Mike Mills is the founder of the Buffalo Outdoor Center.

“Well of course, it’s probably not only float season but any outdoor recreation business.  Cold weather and water activity just don’t mix,” Mills says. 

Mills says the Buffalo River is at a perfect level for floating right now, and reminds floaters that its levels are not affected the same way as other local rivers.

“On the Buffalo, it has to rain within the Buffalo River water shed.  Rain and floods elsewhere put it on peoples’ minds that the rivers are in flood [stage], but they need to check the Buffalo River because often other rivers are in flood stage while this one is in great canoeing stage,” says Mills.   

Mills says in order to maintain good floating levels throughout the season, the Buffalo River needs to get an inch of rain weekly.  Mills says if yesterday’s warmer temperatures indicate the rest of the season, it will be a good one. 

For KSMU News, I’m Theresa Bettmann.