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Cedar River Recreation Study

In 2010, the King County River and Floodplain Management Section conducted a study about recreation on the Cedar River. Data was collected between May and September of 2010 using riverside observations, interviews, and an infrared counter. The purpose was to understand the primary boating and floating areas along the Cedar River and characterize the floating experience for recreational users.

Cedar River Recreation Study: Floating the Cedar River, (PDF, 1MB)


In order for King County river managers to fulfill their multiple mandates, they need to understand the location of recreation users, the factors that could be putting them at risk, and how the actual users perceive wood in rivers. This study explains methods for gathering this information and suggests that river recreationists may make choices that increase their risk for injury.

Data was collected using riverside observations, interviews, and an infrared counter between May and September of 2010 on the Cedar River in King County. Over 1,900 floaters were observed and over 6,700 floaters are estimated to have floated the river between Landsburg Dam and Carco Park. We found that 84 percent of the floating vessels on the Cedar River were inner tubes, 73 percent were adults, and 83 percent had floated multiple times.

When asked how they prepared for their float trip, 38 percent said they checked the weather, 17 percent grabbed drinks and shoes, and 11 percent checked river conditions. Eight percent did not check anything because they live nearby.

Though 98 percent of those interviewed knew how to swim, only 14 percent had access to a life vest. Sixty one percent of children under 12 and 98 percent of teenagers under 18 were observed not wearing life vests when floating on the Cedar River. At least 26 percent were visibly drinking alcohol, and only 13 percent of vessels had an oar or paddle.

When asked to rank seven potential hazards to floaters, large wood and rocks were considered the most hazardous (95 percent and 92 percent respectively) followed by fast water (74 percent), and cold water (66 percent). Access points, deep pools, other users, trash, and beer were other hazards mentioned.

For more information about the Cedar River Recreation Study, please contact Kate Akyuz, King County River and Floodplain Management Section.