Every year marine law enforcement personnel from around Oregon perfect their navigation skills on the Rogue River.

The annual event began Tuesday on the river from Rogue Elk Park to Dodge Bridge on the upper Rogue, and continues on the upper Rogue Wednesday and Thursday.

The training heads downstream Friday to Ennis Riffle, with a takeout at Argo Riffle downstream from Galice.

Marine Deputy Ernie Fields, a veteran of many years on the Rogue, will be an instructor, as will Brad Bennett, another veteran game enforcement officer with Oregon State Police based in Grants Pass.

Marine law enforcement take part in numerous water rescues around the state, and also enforce regulations.

Students will learn to swim in whitewater, practice rescue techniques, navigate Class III whitewater, and operate in remote environments from drift boats, rafts and catarafts.

Running whitewater takes training and practice, so law enforcement can respond to emergencies quickly and confidently.

"This training is designed so the students become proficient and confident running the river," says Dale Flowers, law enforcement training coordinator for the Marine Board. Each day the students drift various river sections, beginning with Class I rapids.

"For example, Day One we focus the students' attention on lifting their vision downriver to see the whole run vs. the next 10 feet in front of the boat," Flowers said.

The training also includes learning the fundamentals of "reading the river" and boat maneuvering.

"Everything is hands-on. Students and instructors need to demonstrate physical skills and communicate really well with each other to make the learning productive while maintaining safety," Flowers added.

The skills the students gain give them a strong foundation to build upon when they return to their patrol area.

Said Flowers: "When the law enforcement students leave this training, they have a new respect for safety on the river, the people who run it and playing by the rules."