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Falling Rocks in Canyon Cause Damage to Jerome Road

JEROME, Idaho (KLIX) – It’s not the first time rocks have fallen off the Snake River Canyon, but Jerome County Commissioner Roger Morley, who is a third generation Idahoan, says he doesn’t remember seeing anything quite like what he’s seen over the past few days.

A rockslide occurred Thursday several miles west of the Perrine Bridge on the Jerome side of the canyon.

“About a football field-sized piece fell,” Morley said.

The rockslide, caused by soil erosion due to extreme wet weather, he said, happened near private property. Luckily, no one was injured in the incident. "I’ve never seen anything like this before,” says Jerome County Commissioner Roger Morley, noting that this season’s wet weather is one for the history books. “I’ve never seen anything attack a canyon wall like this."

Water is still flowing through the area of the rockslide, but watercraft cannot pass.

“You can’t get a boat through there. It’s definitely not safe down there but it’s not really a safety concern,” Morley said. “There are no people, no power plants near it. The concern would be if anymore broke off from the canyon wall. We really don’t know if it’s done yet.”

Morley said he doesn’t remember seeing anything like it in all his years in Idaho.

“I’ve never seen anything like this before,” he said, noting that this season’s wet weather is one for the history books. “I’ve never seen anything attack a canyon wall like this.”

This wasn’t the only place in the canyon where chunks of earth have been restless. More falling rocks not far from the Jerome Country Club caused damage to an access road, making it impassable for vehicles.

“Some rocks have been dislodged and carried downriver by the water,” said Clint Blackwood, coordinator for the Jerome Office of Emergency Management. He said a culvert under Yingst Road became flooded, caused soil erosion, and dislodged the boulders southeast of the golf course.

“The road downhill has been eroded and is impassable right now,” he said.

Blackwood said he didn’t know when crews might be able to clear the debris and repair the damaged road, but it likely will not be for a while “because it is too muddy to deal with right now.”

Morley said the county will repair the road at a later date. Roads of higher priority in the valley should be repaired first, he said, and so the county doesn’t mind waiting its turn.

“It is used,” he said of Yingst Road, “but it’s most popular with hikers and walkers.”

He cautions pedestrians who might use the road to carefully watch where they walk.

“There are rocks on the road the size of human torsos,” he said.

Washed out Yingst Road down into the Snake River Canyon.
Washed out Yingst Road down into the Snake River Canyon.

Morley said he and the other commissioners assigned Blackwell to assess all of the county’s roads into the canyon. They’re still waiting for that report.

Last week the county declared it was in a state of emergency because of flooding and road damage – all things that have helped Morley to view his position in a new light.

“I think a lot of the commissioners in the valley have grown up this year,” he said. “We’ve really learned to see what it’s like to be a commissioner.”

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