High Chipola River Level Affects Recreational Business - WMBB News 13 - The Panhandle's News Leader

High Chipola River Level Affects Recreational Business

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The Chipola River in Marianna is about twice as high as normal for this time of year and when the level gets too high, some recreational use on the creeks and river can be dangerous. 

This makes it hard on water enthusiasts and the businesses who cater to them. 

Bear Paw Adventures has rented out kayaks, canoes, and tubes in Marianna for the past 26 years.

"We haven't put anything out since Saturday of last week," said Rickie McAlpin, owner of Bear Paw Adventures. " We've had to turn away a lot of business on account of the water levels too high."

When the it starts to rise and hit a certain level, it affects Spring Creek, where people begin their trip before they venture into the river. 

"You can see the creek does not feed into the river, the river feeds into the creek," said Jackson County Parks & Recycling Director, Chuck Hatcher. "If you try to go through on a tube, you'll never make it to the river without paddling a half mile or so and most people don't do it."

Hatcher says the current that usually would steer you in the right direction down the Chipola River becomes non existent.

"There's absolutely no current to push a tube and that's usually how you go in a tube, you float," said Hatcher.

For safety precautions, anytime the Chipola River rises above 13 feet, Jackson County closes down their county launches at Turner's Landing and Spring Creek to everyone but boaters.

McAlpin operates under a different protocol.

"When it gets into the action stage, we pretty much stop putting things out," said McAlpin.

Friday the Chipola River was at 14.6 feet and dropping. It was also below the action stage of 15 feet, which had McAlpin happy to be back in business.  

"Today [Friday] was the first day we were able to put anything out, some kayaks and canoes," said McAlpin. 

It's welcome news, because water keeps this business afloat.

McAlpin says he only rented out kayaks and canoes today since tubing may have been a little risky still.

The county expects to open their two entrances to the public on Monday.