Wednesday, December 4, 2013

BLM enacts closures to help wildlife

National Forest area to close when snow deepens


By EXPRESS STAFF

Elk take refuge in the Warm Springs drainage west of Ketchum. Parts of the area will be closed this winter to protect big game. Express file photo

    The BLM Shoshone Field Office has implemented winter motorized-use closures in several areas in the Wood River Valley to protect big game herds.
    The following areas in the Wood River Valley are closed annually to motorized use, including snowmobiles, from Dec. 1 through April 30:

  • Martin/ Big Dry Canyon.
  • Croy Creek to south of Townsend Gulch, with snowmobile and snowshoe use permitted on main roads.
  • Big and Little Beaver drainages.
  • South slopes above East Fork.
  • Elk Mountain area.
  • Portions of the Picabo Hills.

    The BLM patrols these areas to monitor and enforce closures.
    “These closures serve an important role in protecting the big game that finds refuge on these slopes,” Outdoor Recreation Planner John Kurtz said.
    In a news release, the BLM stated that non-motorized activities can also have an impact on wildlife. The agency is encouraging the public to carefully gauge their actions to ensure that they don’t harm deer and elk.
    “Motorized and non-motorized recreationists disturb wildlife and cause them to waste vital energy that is needed for survival,” Kurtz said. “When deer or elk are encountered during an outing, it is important to view them from a distance so that noise or close proximity will not cause additional stress for these animals. Non-motorized users need to honor motorized closures, as wildlife have no options and should have our respect.”  
    According to Kurtz, south-facing slopes provide critical winter habitat, and should also be avoided in winter.
    Free maps detailing the closures are available at the Shoshone Field Office at 400 W. F St. in Shoshone, or by visiting www.blm.gov/id/st/en/advisories-closures.html. For more information, call Kurtz at 208-732-7296.
    A closure to all activities on land administered by the Sawtooth National Forest along Warm Springs Road in Ketchum will also be implemented early this winter. The closure is to protect wintering elk.
    “Snow depth is really what triggers it,” said Bill Whitaker, range technician for the Ketchum Ranger District. “That also coincides with when it gets skiable.”
    The closure will apply to the north side of the road from the West Fork of Warm Springs Creek east to about Wanderer’s Way, a distance of about three miles.
    Whitaker said most national forest roads on the district have been closed to motorized use for the winter. He said that helps wildlife, but is done primarily to protect the roads.




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