Leisurely floating in an inner tube on one of Nebraska’s many scenic river water trails is a cool, refreshing, fun way to kick back and pass a hot summer day with family and friends, isn’t it?
I completely agree! But, some tubers on rivers get into trouble and actually end up spoiling the reputation of other law-abiding, ethical tubers! So, I wanted to do a quick blog post to remind those of you planning to float Nebraska rivers on inner tubes this summer of six important points in order to prevent you from encountering problems.
First. Life Jackets. A U.S. Coast Guard-approved, wearable and accessible life jacket is required to be on-board that inner tube (yes, it is a vessel) and preferably worn. Kids 12 years of age and under must be wearing their life jackets! See our current Nebraska Boating Guide publication for other boating laws and regulations.
Second. Landowner Permission. Tubers have the lawful right to float the water of rivers and portage around obstructions without causing damage. On the other hand, tubers and other river floaters must have permission from private landowners to access their properties which include river beds, sand bars, river banks and any adjacent lands. You must have the landowner’s permission to pit stop, picnic or camp. Do your homework, know where you can and cannot go! Appreciate the fact that you are allowed to use the waterway!
Third. Don’t Litter! Littering is against the law, is ugly, upsets landowners, and ruins a resource! Take along a durable trash bag or use a cooler where you can put trash. Secure it to a separate inner tube. Help clean up after those who have not learned how to care for our rivers. Let’s work to keep them litter-free!
Fourth. Alcohol and Tubing Can Be A Dangerous Mix! Alcohol not only contributes to dehydration during the hot summer months, but, it also impacts a tuber’s ability to make sound decisions on moving water with obstacles! It’s always a good idea to have a ‘designated tuber’ in each group who does not drink alcohol and closely monitors the rest for safety.
Fifth. Safety Around the Water. Besides the sunscreen, insect repellent, hats, glasses, etc., there are a few other things that you need to know before embarking on your inner tube float trip on a Nebraska river. There is no uniform depth in any of our rivers. Expect to find everything from shallow sandbars to drop offs to deep holes. Be weather aware! Know the weather forecast for the entire river valley you’re going to float, especially upstream. You never know when weather occurring upstream will affect the water downstream. Wear shoes! Tight fitting “water shoes,” old gym shoes, or river sandals should be worn while floating as well as walking in and around the river to protect your feet from sharp objects. And remember, if you tip over in your inner tube always try to stay away from the downstream side of it. Strong currents have been known to push larger, heavier tubes tied together over top of people and even pin them against obstructions.
And, Sixth. Steer Clear of the Protected Birds. River users are to avoid violating federal and state laws by keeping a good distance from protected shorebirds that are nesting on sand bars. These at-risk shorebirds are the interior least tern and piping plover.
We thank you for heeding these important reminders and wish you a blast on your next river tubing trip adventure with family and friends!