Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Fire burn-area closure reinstated

Information meetings set for Monday and Tuesday


By EXPRESS STAFF

    Public meetings will be held in Hailey and Ketchum early next week to provide information on the status of trails and roads in the Beaver Creek Fire area this summer.
    A meeting will be held on Monday, May 5, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the Community Campus auditorium in Hailey and on Tuesday, May 6, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the Wood River Community YMCA in Ketchum.
    Officials from the Ketchum Ranger District and the BLM’s Shoshone Field Office will go over current road and trail closures and what may be opened later this summer.
    That will include the status of major drainages such as Croy Creek, Deer Creek, Greenhorn Gulch, Warm Springs and Baker Creek.
    The closures apply to cross-country travel as well.
    The majority of the Beaver Creek Fire area within the Ketchum Ranger District, which burned in August and was severely eroded by heavy rains in September, will remain closed this summer. If conditions stabilize with vegetative regrowth, part of the fire area may be opened, a news release from the district stated.  


Repairing the vast and significant damage will take some time.”
Kurt Nelson
Ketchum Ranger District




    The special order closing the area applies to all human use, including hiking, mountain biking, motorcycling, horseback riding and mushroom gathering, due to public safety concerns. Of highest concern are eroded roads and trails, softened soil, burned roots creating trail depressions, damaged bridges and culverts, and snag trees.
    “I have been, and continue to be, concerned with the hazards that exist in this area due to fire damage,” District Ranger Kurt Nelson said.  “Until we can fully assess the damage, fully implement a restoration plan and begin to see accomplishments that mitigate the hazards, public use of this area is dangerous and prohibited.”
    The vegetation and wildlife are only slowly recovering and are in a fragile condition.
    Nelson said high-severity fires increase water runoff, and burned vegetation such as brush and roots are no longer holding soil in place, creating dangerous conditions. He said a key ingredient to protect and preserve the road and trail systems is user compliance.
    Work to repair the fire damage has begun. Grass seed and mulch were applied to several severely burned areas by helicopter in the early winter and will continue in May. Volunteer efforts are planned to help establish sagebrush and bitterbrush consumed by the fire.
    Work crews will be repairing roads in Deer Creek, Warm Springs and Baker Creek drainages. In addition, Ranger District staff and volunteers have begun trail rehabilitation efforts in the Cow Creek, Lodgepole Gulch and Mahoney Butte areas north and west of Greenhorn trailhead.
    “Coordination with several user groups and volunteer organizations is occurring, but repairing the vast and significant damage will take some time,” Nelson said.  “We are optimistic that good progress will be made throughout the coming year, and are eager to reopen roads, trails and areas as soon as they are safe for public use.”
    Violation of the closure is punishable by up to six months in jail and/or a $5,000 dollar fine.  The closure order and map are available at the Ketchum Ranger District, 622-5371, or at www.fs.usda.gov/sawtooth.
    The lightning-caused Beaver Creek Fire burned more than 110,000 acres of land on the west side of the Wood River Valley last summer.




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