RANDALL BENTON / rbenton@sacbee.com

Dan Krogman "shotguns" a can of beer, consuming it in a great gulp Saturday on the American River, where Rafters Gone Wild drew more than 3,000 participants and more than 60 law enforcement and rescue officials, plus a helicopter.

Sacramento County considers extending alcohol ban on river

Published: Friday, Aug. 3, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 1B
Last Modified: Thursday, Jul. 11, 2013 - 9:03 am

A day of partying on the American River that ended in brawls and rock-throwing last month was the last straw for Sacramento County officials.

The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday will consider extending a summer holiday ban on alcohol on the lower American River and Parkway to any additional days between Memorial Day and Labor Day when the director of Regional Parks believes alcohol consumption on the river would result in significant issues of public safety.

The board is scheduled to take up the matter at 11:15 a.m. Board Chairman Don Nottoli said the proposed resolution would allow discretionary bans during the summer rafting season.

The move stems from Rafters Gone Wild, an event publicized via social media that drew more than 3,000 people to the river and adjoining American River Parkway on July 14 for a day of partying.

The day ended in drunkenness, fights and 23 arrests, as well as closure of River Bend Park. Law enforcement officers and paramedics reported that rocks and bottles were thrown at them as they tried to break up fights and provide medical aid.

Rafters Gone Wild was first held in 2010, as what officials said appeared to be a reaction to the county's move in 2006 to ban alcohol on the parkway on Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day.

A year later, the state Legislature extended the holiday ban to the American River itself between Hazel and Watt avenues.

Authorities say the holiday alcohol ban has transformed the river and parkway into a family-friendly environment. But "the same behavior once reserved for holiday weekends has now moved and escalated to another weekend during the summer when alcohol is permitted on the river," states a county staff report.

Nottoli said the proposed resolution would authorize the Regional Parks director, in consultation with the county chief executive officer, to impose an alcohol ban on other days during the rafting season if he or she had reason to believe that alcohol consumption on the river would pose a significant threat to public safety.

Nottoli said county staff members believe the alcohol ban on the river can be expanded beyond the holidays without additional state legislation as long as it applies only to the period from Memorial Day through Labor Day.

The board also will consider directing the county's legislative advocate to include in the county's 2013 legislative policy a new proposal to clarify the existing prohibition on alcohol consumption in non-motorized vessels along the American River Parkway and lower American River between Hazel Avenue and Discovery Park between May 1 and Oct. 1.

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