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Rainbow Bridge a favorite for illegal jumping

High water breeding risky behavior
By: Jenifer Gee, Gold Country News Service
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High water levels at area hot spots may mean more recreation, but some are engaging in risky behavior. While bridge jumping is not a new activity to those who monitor State Parks land, it is a dangerous one they don’t condone. “It’s an activity we don’t allow inside the park,” said Dan Tynan, sector superintendent for Folsom Lake State Recreation Area. “It’s an unsafe activity.” Folsom residents are well aware of the bridge jumping activities around the historic Rainbow Bridge, which spans the upper reaches of Lake Natoma. “Yes, it’s dangerous,” said Folsom Police Sgt. Rick Hillman. “We’ve had people over the years injure themselves. It’s danger to jump off any bridge, not knowing the depth of the water (or) where the rocks are.” He said the Rainbow Bridge draws the most jumpers. “Our biggest concern is the Rainbow Bridge and that’s probably because of the (easy) access,” he said. “Usually we respond to a few calls of people on the bridge or of kids jumping off the bridge, and no pedestrians are allowed on the Rainbow Bridge. Usually, when we arrive, the kids are already gone.” He said the jumpers create mayhem for motorists. “It creates a traffic problem,” he said. “If someone is injured down below and we have to rescue them, it (also) ties up our resources. It’s important to respond to the injury.” Currently, tributaries and rivers leading down to Folsom Lake are flowing swiftly at high levels as snowmelts and recent rainfall travel downstream. The amount of water following and collected has filled the lake almost 97 percent full, Tynan said. “It hasn’t been that high in ages,” Tynan said. While boaters and fishermen have already started taking advantage of the high water levels, so did a group of teenagers on a recent warm afternoon. The teens, who declined to give their names, were taking turns jumping off Salmon Falls Bridge, located about 20 minutes from El Dorado Hills on Salmon Falls Road. The teens said they typically keep an eye out for law enforcement or State Parks rangers, but otherwise enjoy what they say is a popular summertime hangout. When asked whether they thought jumping off the bridge was dangerous, some said it was while others said it wasn’t. The group measured the distance from the bridge to water level with rope. On the day they were jumping, it was about an 18-foot drop. Normally, one man said it’s about 55 to 60 feet. “Usually you can see the entire cement beams of the bridge,” Trevor Jones said. “This is probably the highest I’ve seen it.” Don Chaddock and Ben Furtado contributed to this report.