River warning signs to be placed around Hart Park, Lake Ming

On Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2017, the Kern County Board of Supervisors will hear a proposal to place 18 permanent river warning signs around Hart Park and Lake Ming in Bakersfield, Calif. (Provided image)

The Kern River death toll has reached staggering numbers this year. Now, local officials say they have a plan to help save lives.

Ryan Alsop, the county administrative officer, developed a proposal to place 18 permanent river warning signs around Hart Park and Lake Ming.

The board will hear the proposal on Aug. 8.

"We want to celebrate the river. We want people to enjoy the river," Alsop said. "We want to say, 'Hey, there are inherent dangers out here, and you need to be aware of them.'"

Alsop said the goal of the signs is not to scare people away but to educate people of the risks.

"We're going to do 18 signs with the goal of keeping people safe, aware and making sure that they understand the inherent risks throughout the river," he said.

Alsop said the sign will be in English and Spanish.

The county administrative officer said the signs will not only remind locals of the dangers, but they will help tourists who may not be aware of the strength of the current.

County officials worked with law enforcement, search-and-rescue and park staff to decide there the signs will go.

"We think the signage at those points will be sort of a powerful reminder," Alsop said.

Alsop said this year, 13 people have lost their lives in the Kern River, and one person swept away remains unaccounted for. He said five of those who have lost their lives this year entered the river from county-owned property in and around Hart Park.

"We may not save every life," he said. "People are going to make unwise decisions. But if we can save even one, that would be great, and I'm hoping to do that with this."

Alsop said the 18 signs should cost just under $5,000, and if the board approves them they can go up within the next few weeks.

"It's prudent that we have signage in there. We don't have any signage. It seems like a common sense thing to do," Alsop said.

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