Thursday, April 30, 2020

Updates on National Forest closures, Idaho Power openings and outdoor ethics during COVID-19 pandemic

Make sure you practice proper outdoor ethics when you are out recreating on public lands.
Hi all,

It's been kind of disgusting seeing pictures of litter, garbage and even furniture(!) that people have been dumping on our public lands lately. 

It's kind of a sign of the times, I guess. People are flocking to Idaho's outdoors like never before during the COVID-19 pandemic because they want to get out of the house, and they have no where else to go! 

Perhaps we need to remind people about some basic outdoor ethics ... 

  • Pack it in, pack it out is one of those best practices. Self-contained day trips are recommended right now, so pack up the day's food and drinks, put it in a cooler, drive to your destination, do your outing, and drive home. No stops needed. Pack out what you brought with you. Leave nothing behind.
  • Leave No Trace means clean up your campsite before you go. Pack out all your garbage and try to erase all trace of your presence. Leave it nice for the next group.     
  • If you have to poop in the woods, dig a hole and do it properly. Bring a little shovel and pack your own TP. The restrooms might be closed. How to poop in the woods.
In the interest of de-mystifying and updating where you can go here, what's open and what's closed on the 1st of May, I have some details on that:
  • Idaho State Parks are open but overnight camping is closed. 
  • Ridge to Rivers trails in Boise are open. Try lesser-used trails and trailheads. Please practice at least 6 feet of social distancing. Please go out of your way to practice good trail etiquette. It's crucial right now! Uphill traffic has the right of way. Bikes should yield to hikers and trail-runners. Be a good trail ambassador!
  • The Boise River Greenbelt is open. Place practice at least 6 feet of social distancing. 
  • Bureau of Land Management lands in Idaho are open. Day trips are encouraged. 
  • Most named campgrounds and hot springs on National Forest lands are closed. Here’s a statewide interactive  national forest map that shows closure areas/sites throughout the state.
  • The Forest Service placed a group-size restriction of 10 people or less on national forests statewide. 

The Boise National Forest has closed named campgrounds and hot springs in general. Dispersed camping is OK but not encouraged. Hiking trails are generally open. Danskin Mountain trailheads are open now, and several parking areas for motorized recreation are open in the Idaho City area.
If you’re interested in visiting the Boise National Forest, check the web site before you go.
For a list of Boise National Forest closures, go here:

Call 208-373-4100 to leave a message and get a call back if you have a specific question. 

The Payette National Forest has closed named campgrounds and hot springs in general. Dispersed camping is OK but not encouraged. Pack it in, pack it out. See this link for information on what’s closed in the Payette National Forest. The South Fork of the Salmon River has been closed until June 30.

The Sawtooth National Forest just closed all of its named campgrounds and recreation sites until early June. Much of the Sawtooth National Recreation Area is still under snow. Here’s a link to the Sawtooth National Forest web site. Sawtooth NF offices are closed, but you can reach staff at the following numbers:

Ketchum Ranger District, 208-622-0090.
Fairfield Ranger District, 208-764-3202.
Stanley Ranger Station, 208-774-3000.
Sawtooth NRA headquarters, 208-727-5000.
Minidoka Ranger District, 208-678-0430.

Reminder: Blaine County and Valley County are discouraging people from visiting at the current time because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Numerous Idaho Power boat ramps and day use sites are reopening on Friday, May 1. Here’s a link to all the sites that will be opening, including a number of boat ramps at CJ Strike Reservoir. 

See the Recreate Responsibly page on the Idaho coronavirus site for more information.
- SS

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