Local officials are looking into what can be done to highlight the dangers of one of Southern Idaho’s most popular recreation destinations

Published: Aug. 2, 2022 at 9:27 AM MDT
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TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) —Saturday afternoon, a troubling trend at one of Southern Idaho’s recreation destinations continued.

“If you look at the last 3 years, every year we’ve had a drowning down here at Centennial Park and all of those issues have involved Pillar Falls,” said Sgt, Ken Mencl of the Twin Falls County Sheriff’s Office.

On the hottest summer days in Southern Idaho, hundreds or thousands of people flock to Centennial Park to get a reprieve from the hottest Idaho days. But if you’re not careful a trip down to the park, or up to the falls, can turn deadly in no time.

“Right there on the left side of that boulder, where the shoot narrows, is the area where, most of the time, we find that somebody becomes stuck in that big hole there underneath the water currents. It requires lots of people to be able to pull that individual out from that hole,” said Mencl.

Sergeant Mencl warns swimmers, kayakers and hikers throughout the summer about the dangers of the unsuspecting falls, saying even the strongest of swimmers could get overpowered by the hidden undercurrents.

One challenge for the department is that they can’t possibly reach all recreational visitors on their own. “We have so much tourism as well, as it was the case this past weekend where the individual who drowned was from out of state, there are a lot of people that we simply just can’t reach out to,” Mencl added.

The county Parks and Waterways department has discussed strategies for spreading awareness of the dangerous waters more effectively, but as of now, nothing is being done to change the ways the message is disseminated.

“As far as signage, and other forms of outreach, those are all things that are being discussed to see what we can do to look at other avenues that can, hopefully, prevent these types of tragedies from happening in the future,” said Mencl.

According to Rocky Matthews of the Twin Falls Parks and Waterways Department, the ability to discuss these sorts of changes requires the Bureau of Reclamation, Department of Environmental Quality or the Core of Engineers to approach them with a plan. Until then, nothing will change.

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