Sacramento County park rangers urge holiday weekend safety along rivers

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — With so many Fourth of July events canceled because of COVID-19, Sacramento County rangers are expecting huge crowds to go float the American and Sacramento rivers this weekend. 

As on most holidays weekends, there is an alcohol ban. 

Rangers are also encouraging people to be safe in the river and maintain physical distancing, even while floating. 

“People have been cooped up. People want to get out,” said Sgt. Randy Bickle. “People want to stretch their legs and they don’t have a venue to go to. There isn’t fireworks at the state fairgrounds or at Folsom Rodeo.”

Sacramento County Parks Ranger Bickle said Memorial weekend was packed and that is why he and his fellow rangers are preparing for a surge in rafters. 

“We’re going to do our best to keep educating people. Please ask them to wear masks, ask them to social distance and try to respect other people’s space,” Bickle told FOX40. 

Bickle said his rangers will also strictly enforce the alcohol and fireworks ban. 

“A lot of folks might get their fireworks, even the safe and sane, and want to bring them out to the parkway. And, unfortunately, the parkway is very dry and is an incredible fire hazard,” said Bickle. 

He said they will not be issuing tickets for COVID-19 violations, but if the parkway gets too crowded, they will take some precautions. 

“If we get to a point where it’s too full, parking lots are full, we will close the gates,” said Bickle. 

Meanwhile, within Sacramento, Mayor Darrell Steinberg said he has not ruled out the possibility of issuing citations to repeat offenders. 

“Without the right kind of protection, I’d have no problem with enforcement because sometimes you have to set an example,” said Steinberg. 

This weekend, he said the city doesn’t have the personnel to go after everyone, which is why he hopes people will speak up if they see violators. 

“The first thing we should all do is say, ‘Hey, please don’t.’ And please break it up because there will be many more Fourth of Julys,” said Steinberg. “But not this Fourth of July. Let’s protect the health of each other, of people you may never know.” 

Park rangers don’t want to discourage people from going out to the river. They say they just people to be safe. 

That also means in the water by wearing a life vest.

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