For over fifteen years, the southeastern United States has been struggling with the death of our beautiful hemlock trees due to Hemlock Woolly Adelgid.  Many of our rivers are lined with the remains of these once beautiful trees. The significance of this to boaters is the fact that the dead trees are beginning to fall in increased numbers.

Trees falling across river beds is a well-known hazard in boating.  Trees good. Strainers bad. With the number of dead trees out there, the potential for new fallen trees now and in the future is much greater.  The difficulty of a river is irrelevant when dealing with a strainer, meaning that for the long-term until the dead hemlocks clear out, paddlers’ downstream awareness should be on full alert whether paddling a Class II river, or a favorite Class V creek. A tree can fall overnight, so do not assume that because you paddled the river a week ago that there are no trees down.  When you put on a river, look around; are there a number of dead trees alongside the river? If there are, don’t take downstream for granted.  Prevention is the best way to deal with bad situations in paddling.