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Kite tubing off limits at Corps facilities

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has prohibited kite tubing at all Portland District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-managed reservoirs in the Columbia, Willamette and Rogue river basins.

The ban includes the use of any 'airborne towables,' which are defined as inflatable recreational devices designed to go airborne with a rider while being towed by a boat, whether or not they are specifically marketed as kite tubes.

The effected reservoirs are: Applegate and Lost Creek in Jackson County, Big Cliff and Detroit in Marion/Linn counties, Blue River, Cottage Grove, Cougar, Dexter, Dorena, Fall Creek, Fern Ridge, Hills Creek and Lookout Point in Lane County, Foster and Green Peter in Linn County and Willow Creek in Morrow County.

Additionally, the Corps is restricting use of the devices in the pools created by Bonneville, The Dalles and John Day dams on the Columbia River.

Portland District Commander Col. Thomas O'Donovan imposed the ban because of the high potential for serious injuries caused by uncontrolled flight of these devices, posing risks to the rider, as well as to others who may be in the area.

A relatively new form of extreme water sport, kite tubing involves a large inflatable tube with a solid fabric floor on which an individual rides while being towed behind a boat. As speed increases the entire tube lifts into the air like a kite. The rider's lack of stability and control of the device often results in the tube overturning or throwing the rider, sometimes from heights of 30 feet of more from the water's surface, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Reports and news accounts from multiple states cite injuries and at least two deaths resulting from this activity, including the recent serious injury to a young man riding a kite tube at Detroit Lake.

The CPSC has identified these products as potentially dangerous and the Oregon State Marine Board has issued a safety advisory warning of the dangers associated with use of these devices. Both agencies notes that changing conditions such as speed of the boat, the experience of the boat operator, wind gusts and water currents can significantly increase the dangers associated with the devices.