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July 17, 2014 7:17 am

EDITORIAL: Locals showed their willingness to help others at dam event

Written by Tom Lawrence

Thumbs up to the people who hurried to the Mormon Dam last week when four teenage girls found themselves in trouble.

Joey and Jaclyn Haire, Kylie Ollinger and Melani Madden were enjoying a cool tube ride down the Shoshone River when they realized they had missed an opportunity to get out of the water before reaching the dam.

They endured terrifying tumbles over the dam, and the Haire sisters, of Powell, and Madden were scraped, cut and bruised. Ollinger, like Madden a California resident, was more seriously injured.

Even though the incident took place at a remote location, several area residents rushed to the area to help. The Powell Volunteer Fire Department, as always, had firefighters on the scene to help and the ambulance crew got the girls to Powell Valley Hospital as quickly as possible.

Dan Madden, the father of one of the girls, was clearly impressed.

“I wanted to really make sure that the word got out that you guys have such a great community here, not only comforting the kids, but us adults as well,” Madden said. “That’s one thing I’ll be talking about, is how great everybody was.”

We agree with that sentiment.

Thumbs down to the increased danger on rivers, streams, creeks, lakes and ponds right now.

The injuries the four girls suffered were regrettable, but it could have been much worse. We saw an example of that Sunday night in Grand Teton National Park, when a 63-year-old Jackson woman drowned after the raft she and five others were in overturned.

The four girls who tumbled through the Mormon Dam were wearing life jackets, but so was the woman who died Sunday. You must wear personal flotation devices, but they will not guarantee your safety.

Be aware of the situation. Note how fast the water is moving and be alert to hazards above and below the water.

This past winter dumped a lot of snow into the mountains, and snowmelt still is filtering down into the water all around us. Enjoy the chances to cool off this summer — but keep a cool head as well.

Thumbs up to the Wyoming Game and Fish’s efforts to prevent invasive aquatic species from entering the state’s waters.

In a story in Tuesday’s Powell Tribune, work that is performed to keep these non-native creatures from our water was detailed. Game and Fish launched the effort in 2010 and so far has not detected any zebra and quagga mussels or other invasive species.

But it wisely has remained on the job, checking boats that come into the state in the spring and summer. Thankfully, most outdoor enthusiasts understand the need to drain, clean and dry their boats and equipment.

If the aquatic invaders get into lakes, rivers and other waterways, they could do extensive harm. We thank the Game and Fish staffers, along with other law enforcement agencies that assist them and the boaters who cooperate with them, for preventing that from happening.

Thumbs down to the Chicken Littles in the media and the wild world of blogs who tried to drum up a little panic with reports that a road in Yellowstone National Park had melted and caused a temporary closure.

Yes, Firehole Lake Drive grew a tad sticky on July 10 because temperatures hit the mid 80s. Add that to the fact that it’s a hot part of the park to begin with, thanks to underground thermal features, and you have the ingredients for a tabloid concoction.

Yellowstone is collapsing! The caldera, the massive underground volcano, is on the verge of exploding! Run!

Um, no. It’s happened before and will happen again. Roads across the country and world grow sticky in hot weather.

The caldera is monitored and park officials insist there is no need for panic, no cause for concern. It makes for good click-bait for websites, but the truth is far duller.

The road reopened Saturday morning. Yellowstone, America’s first and arguably greatest national park, awaits its visitors. The sky is not falling and the park is not on fire — enjoy your time there.

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