Hazards created by recent landslides into the Nantahala River within the Nantahala Gorge have resulted in a suspension of all commercial rafting and kayaking operations. The U.S. Forest Service completed the assessment of the landslide locations on Tuesday and found multiple locations with hazardous debris in the river.
There are locations within the river where debris has created a 90 percent blockage and the water has created diversions around the blockage. These diversions can result in erosion of the embankments which can compromise the infrastructure of the nearby roads and bridges. These blockages consist of woody debris that is dangerous for anyone recreating within the river.
The agency is working to clear the debris and blockages from the river in order to restore the water flow. They are working with contractors for the removal and have assembled an Incident Management Team to manage the operations.
David Perez, Acting Nantahala District Ranger, advises visitors, “The river is a dangerous place to be right now please refrain from visiting the area. We are working as quickly and safely as we can to get the river back open.”
Visitors should avoid these areas to ensure their own safety and that of crews assessing and clearing debris.