Monday, March 17, 2014

Popular Danskin OHV trail system will be closed in 2014 for repairs, restoration

Burned bridge in the fire zone. (Courtesy Boise National Forest)
Deep holes like this exist along some of the trails ... (Courtesy Boise National Forest)
Here's a news release from the Boise National Forest on Friday, March 14, regarding the popular Danskin Trail system ...

BOISE, ID – The Danskin OHV area, a popular 60,000-acre recreation site located east of Boise in last year’s Elk and Pony Fire Complex area, will continue to be closed this year. 

The closure applies to motorized and mechanized use, which has been in place since the late-summer fire due to public safety concerns.  Of highest concern are eroded trails, softened soil, burned roots creating trail depressions, damaged bridges and infrastructure, and snag trees.

Two recent accidents, one involving a Forest Service worker, and the second a private citizen operating a vehicle near the OHV area, involved ATV’s that suddenly rolled off the trail and down steep slopes due to the soft and eroded trails.

“I have been, and continue to be, concerned with the hazards that exist in this recreation area due to the fire damage,” said Stephaney Church, Mountain Home District Ranger. “These people were lucky they were not killed and until we can fully assess the damage, fully implement a restoration plan, and begin to see accomplishments with mitigating the hazards public use of this area is dangerous and prohibited.”

In addition, the vegetation and wildlife are slowly recovering and are in a fragile condition. Church said that high severity fires increase water runoff and burn vegetation such as brush and roots that hold the soil in place creating dangerous conditions. Church added a key ingredient to protect and preserve the trail system is user compliance.

Work to rehabilitate and repair the fire damage has begun.  Grass seeds were applied by helicopter in the early winter, and volunteer efforts have begun to help establish sagebrush and bitterbrush consumed by the fire.

“Coordination with several ATV clubs, conservation groups and outdoor organizations is occurring, but to repair the vast and significant damage will take some time,” said Church.  “We are optimistic good progress will be made throughout the coming year, and are eager to reopen the area as soon as it is safe for public use.”

Violation of the closure is punishable by up to 6 months in jail and/or a $5,000 dollar fine.  Further information is available at the Mountain Home Ranger District at 587-7961 or www.fs.usda.gov/boise

For alternative places to ride in SW Idaho, please see our Where to Ride page for some ideas. The foothills of the Owyhee Mountains open up early in the spring and would be a good choice. We feature two rides in that area -- an ATV fun run, and a motorcycle fun run. Both rides are about 25 miles long. The Owyhee Backcountry Byway would be another possibility, weather-permitting. 

See our full list of 50 rides, with detailed descriptions and maps. 

Another great source of information for OHV riding is the "Idaho Trails" statewide interactive online map provided by the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation. Before you go, check with the local ranger district office or BLM district office to check on spring conditions. Lower-elevation trails will be the best bet at this time of year. 

Saturday, January 4, 2014

IDPR Trail Rangers clear 1,843 miles of trail statewide in 2013; thanks for the work guys!

Post burn log pile-ups can take many hours, if not days to clear. 
Hi all, 

Happy New Year to the Idaho OHV community! We wanted to share the impressive achievements of the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation Trail Rangers  program in the 2013 field season. 

The Trail Ranger crews work hard all summer long in Idaho's backcountry to ensure that our multi-use trails on national forest lands are free of downfall and brush, usable and sustainable.  They're strong and sturdy guys who ride motorbikes to access the trails, carrying chainsaws, shovels and other necessary tools for trail maintenance.

The overall goal is to clear about 2,000 miles of trail statewide. Twenty-six different ranger districts on eight national forests throughout the state put in requests for trail-clearing, and IDPR fulfills the requests as best they can. The Forest Service provides a place for the Trail Rangers to sleep, and the trail work is provided to the national forests at no cost. Idaho OHV registration fees pay for the program, keeping many popular multi-use trails open and cleared for the public to enjoy. 



Here's the breakdown of the Trail Rangers work by region, according to IDPR's ATV/Motorbike Program

North: 
Miles request: 540.7
Miles Cleared: 528.3 
Downfall: 1949 
Tread work: 1027
Water Bars: 179

Southwest:
Miles Request: 734.2
Miles Cleared: 679.6
Downfall: 7080
Tread Work: 1058
Water Bars: 308

East:
Miles Request: 668.9
Miles Cleared: 635.1
Downfall: 2551
Tread Work: 110
Water Bars: 169

Total miles cleared 1,843 miles 

One statistic seems to jump out in the Southwest region -- the removal of more than 7,000 trees! Recent wildfires, microbursts and blow-down events all led to that amazing tally of downed timber.

You can see individual ranger district reports on Trail Rangers work on the IDPR ATV/Motorbike Facebook page.

Many thanks to the Trail Rangers for their fine work in 2013, and thanks to the OHV users for supporting the program!

If OHV users have a particular trail that they'd like to have addressed by the Trail Rangers, they should contact their local Forest Service ranger district office to ensure that the trail is under consideration for maintenance. Folks also could contact the IDPR ATV/Motorbike progam for information as well. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

New free Challis-area Recreation Map is available for all trail users from the Challis Chamber

Hi all,

The Challis Area Chamber of Commerce has produced a new recreation map for the greater Challis area. The two-sided, full-color map is available for free from the chamber.

The map is very comprehensive, focusing on Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service trails in the vicinity surrounding Challis, including trails in the Yankee Fork area, Morgan Creek area, the Pahsimeroi country, Big Lost Range, Mackay area and more.

The map features easy-to-read, color-coded trail designations for ATV trails, motorbike trails, non-motorized trails, jeep trails and roads.
Color-coded trail designations highlights different trail types for
ATVs, roads, singletrack trails for motorbikes or mountain bikes,
and non-motorized trails. (click to enlarge)
Melissa Perkins Fitzgerald, executive director of the Challis Area Chamber of Commerce, explains how the map project was conceived. "The Challis Area Chamber of Commerce recognizes the importance of recreation to our community and its economy," she said. "Subsidized by ad sponsorship, the map features an area of approximately 5,000 square miles. By providing extensive trail opportunities, we offer the public alternative routes for their enjoyment, thereby enhancing their experience.

"To the visiting public this may increase the possibility of their return and referral. Until now, the public had to review several agency maps to view ‘the big picture’. While USFS and BLM are the definitive resource for trail conditions and regulations, our map is a sizable overview of the region and of the trail systems. We see this project is an investment in our future."

If you're thinking about exploring recreation trails in the greater Challis area, the new recreation map would be a great resource for planning and navigating trail rides.

Contact Melissa at the Challis chamber, if you'd like to order the map. Donations for postage would be appreciated, but not required. She can be reached at 208-879-2771 or via email: challischamber@custertel.net 

FYI: Some of the motorbike and ATV trails in the Challis area are featured in the Where to Ride section of the stayontrails.com web site. Each ride has a detailed desciption and map. We offer these Internet resources as an additional place to go for information about riding in the Challis area. Click on the rides below for the details:
There you have it. Enjoy your ride!

Monday, September 30, 2013

Brush up on new IDFG motorized hunting rule before you go hunting; rule affects 30 units

General deer season opens on Oct. 10 statewide 
30 big game units are affected by the IDFG Motorized Hunting Rule 
Hi all, 

We want to give Idaho resident and non-resident hunters a head's up about a new "Motorized Hunting Rule" that the Idaho Department of Fish and Game has put into place for the 2013 hunting season. The Motorized Hunting Rule is similar to previous IDFG rules regarding the use of motorized vehicles on public lands, but a few changes have occurred.

Many OHV riders know that the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management either have travel management plans in place or are in the process of finalizing them. These plans guide the use of singletrack trails, ATV trails, two-track roads and primary access roads on public lands during the year. Many of these routes are restricted during hunting season or restricted to benefit wildlife; these restrictions affect all motorized recreationists.

The basis of trail- and road-restrictions benefit wildlife is primarily to reduce the disturbance effect of OHV's on wildlife, said Jon Heggen, chief of enforcement for IDFG. The disturbance from motorized vehicles may spook wildlife from cover habitat, but also disrupt the hunting experience of people hunting on foot or horseback.

It's getting to be time to gear up for rifle hunting season in Idaho ... 
A number of years ago, the Idaho Fish and Game Commission implemented specific restrictions for OHV use by hunters in various hunting units. These restrictions came on top of the OHV restrictions in USFS and BLM travel management plans to address harvest vulnerability during the hunting season.

"Vulnerability is an important management issue because OHV's can cover more ground than people hunting on foot or horseback, and this can lead to a higher mortality rate on deer and elk, Fish and Game officials say.  Additionally, research in Idaho and elsewhere has shown that managing motorized access can increase the number and quality of mature bucks and bulls.

The Fish and Game Motorized Hunting Rule restricts OHV use by hunters on certain roads and trails in 30 big game units statewide; all of them are south of the Salmon River in southern Idaho. See map. Hunters should check the IDFG web site for details. Some of these units have high road densities from logging projects conducted years ago.
Among the changes in the Motorized Hunting Rule this year:
·         OHV restrictions for the Boise River Mountains Unit #39 and Big Wood Unit #48 have been discontinued.
·         It applies to hunters pursuing all big game species, including those pursuing moose, mountain goats and bighorn sheep.
·         It is valid and enforced between the dates of Aug. 30 and Dec. 31. Therefore, it doesn't apply to spring bear, cougar and turkey hunts.  
·         It does NOT apply to bird hunters -- people pursuing blue grouse or chukars on public lands.
·         It does NOT apply to recreational OHV riders who are just out for a ride, and are not hunting.
Hunters can still use OHVs to pack in hunting camp and to retrieve game as long as these activities are done on designated trails. It's illegal to ride OHV's cross-country to retrieve game unless specifically allowed by the land manager.

Some folks in the OHV community question whether the IDFG has the legal authority to enact OHV restrictions over and above those already adopted by the Forest Service and BLM. The Idaho Legislature has been evaluating the issue for the last two sessions.

The new changes "doesn't change our opinion" about the rule, said David Claiborne, president of the Idaho State ATV Association. "I'd prefer to have one travel management plan guiding the use of OHV's on public lands, rather than having multiple layers of regulation. It'd be better to keep it simple for everybody. Fish and Game is adding another level of complexity."

The  Motorized Hunting Rule also is difficult to enforce, Claiborne says, because any hunter riding an OHV with a firearm during hunting season in a restricted hunting unit is subject to being stopped by a Fish and Game conservation officer.

Fish and Game officials say they need the additional restrictions on OHV use to maintain healthy populations of bucks and bulls and meet management objectives.

We expect the conversations between the Idaho State ATV Association and IDFG will continue about the Motorized Hunting Rule.
Forest Service Motor Vehicle Use Maps also are important to consult
for information about trail and road closures to hunters on OHVs

But in the meantime, hunters will need to do their homework and check on trail and road restrictions in their favorite hunting units before deer season opens on Oct. 10 statewide. This means checking the BLM travel plans, Forest Service Motor Vehicle Use Maps, and IDFG information if you're going to hunt in one of the 30 big game units affected by the IDFG Motorized Hunting Rule.

We joke inside the office that OHV riders almost have to have a Ph.D. in natural resource management to figure out where to ride legally in Idaho during hunting season. But seriously, take some time to pore over the maps and online resources before you go big game hunting to make sure you can ride where you want to hunt, or at least know what restrictions exist in your hunting area.


Hope you have a great hunt! 

Friday, June 28, 2013

New ATV recreation map for Central Idaho has opportunities for sponsors, advertisers

There are lots of great trail rides in the Challis area. 
The Challis Area Chamber of Commerce is working on producing a recreation map for ATV and motorbike trails in the Salmon-Challis National Forest, Bureau of Land Management and Land of the Yankee Fork State Park.

The idea is to show a larger picture of the OHV recreation trails in the greater Central Idaho area surrounding Challis. The map would cover trails from the Yankee Fork-Sunbeam area to the west, Iron Creek to the north near Salmon, the Pahsimeroi Valley to Goldberg to the east, and areas south of Mackay to the south.

The map will be free to the general public. The Forest Service, BLM and Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation are all supportive of the map project.

Melissa Perkins Fitzgerald, who is heading up the mapping effort for the Challis chamber, says the deadline is fast approaching for advertisements to support the map research, development, printing and distribution. There are still advertising opportunities for 14 businesses on the map. Contact Fitzgerald if you are interested in advertising by the week of July 1. See her contacts below.

"By providing extensive trail opportunities in our area, we offer many routes for people's enjoyment, thereby enhancing their experience. This project is an investment in our future," Fitzgerald says.

The Challis chamber plans to have the map printed before the 5th annual "Ride the BayHorse" ATV event, which will be held over the weekend of Aug. 16-18. Also at that time, the Idaho State ATV Association (ISATVA) will hold their annual meeting in Challis.

For more information, contact Melissa at the Challis Chamber of Commerce, 208-879-2771, or by email challischamber@custertel.net. Thank you. 

Friday, June 21, 2013

John Keys of Boise wins Polaris 500 Sportsman from Idaho OHV Public Outreach Campaign

Our lucky winner, John Keys, with a Ride Proud T-shirt at Carl's Cycles.
Hi all,

John Keys was a happy guy on Thursday as he picked up a brand new forest green Polaris Sportsman 500 at Carl's Cycles in Boise. Keys won the $6,100 machine by entering an ATV sweepstakes offering this spring from the Idaho OHV Public Outreach Campaign. We had 1,735 entries in the contest.

Keys is excited about learning how to ride the ATV. "I've actually never ridden a scooter, a motorcycle or a motorcycle before," he said. "I'm more a sandals and mountain biker and kayaker kind of guy."

Dale Zimmerman of Carl's Cycles explains the operational features of the Polaris Sportsman 500. 
But as Dale Zimmerman from Carl's explained all the features of the Polaris 500 Sportsman, Keys said, "Man, this is really pretty cool!"

A kayak friend, Jo Cassin, co-owner of Idaho River Sports, steered Keys toward entering the ATV drawing on the Stay on Trails Facebook page. Cassin had liked the Facebook post, so he checked out the sweepstakes and filled out the information to enter the contest. This is often how good ideas spread in social media networks -- from one friend to the next.

Keys says his friends have been saying things ranging from "congrats" to "damn you" after learning that he won the Polaris Sportsman.
Getting ready for the first ride ... to load the machine on the trailer. 
He's won a few things before -- like a new kayak paddle at Idaho River Sports, he won a set of 29er mountain bike wheels at a Banff Film Festival event, and a Core Concepts jacket. Keys says he has a pretty good lucky streak, but that hasn't translated to winning the lottery, at least not yet.

Brad Weigle, manager of digital strategy and planning at Drake Cooper, an advertising firm that oversees the OHV public outreach campaign, said the ATV sweepstakes this spring represented a different way to reach OHV users in Idaho.
Jo Cassin, far right, "liked" our ATV sweepstakes, inspiring John Keys to enter the contest.  

"We started the Ride Proud campaign this spring to remind people why we all enjoy living here and riding our ATVs," Weigle said. "This state provides us with some of the best riding opportunities in the world. Let's keep it that way. Let's Ride Proud and Stay on Trails.

"Rather than reaching out with typical advertising channels and shouting from the hill, we wanted to connect with our core audience and offer them a few great prizes. By having conversations with this audience, connecting with them on real issues, and having a little fun by giving away stickers, T-shirts and a grand prize ATV, we're able to build new relationships with riders. These are the same riders who are empowered with a message and a belief to protect the land and Ride Proud."
Loaded on the trailer and ready to head for the mountains. 
Indeed, the Idaho OHV Public Outreach Campaign always has been about connecting with Idaho's motorbike, ATV and UTV riders and encouraging people to ride in a safe and responsible manner on our public lands. The campaign is overseen by a committee of land management agency officials, including the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation and Idaho Department of Fish and Game officials.

The ATV sweepstakes enabled the campaign to build its visibility on Facebook and on the stayontrails.com web site, and with new relationships forged through those means, we will be able to reach more of the Idaho OHV community in future outreach efforts.

There are roughly 135,000 off-highway vehicles registered in the state of Idaho, based on 2011 statistics, so there are a lot of people who enjoy riding OHVs in the state. John Keys will be the latest new addition to the OHV community.

We want to thank Jack Struthers at Carl's Cycles for assisting with the ATV sweepstakes promotion and working with Polaris to give us a great wholesale price on the Polaris 500 Sportsman. Carl's has been a key supporter of the Stay on Trails campaign since the beginning. Thanks Jack!

For more information about the Stay on Trails campaign, visit our web site or Facebook page. Our popular Where to Ride section now has 47 ride descriptions, maps and photos for OHV rides statewide, with several more to be added in the coming weeks.

Have fun out there ... we wish all of our new Facebook fans could have won the ATV, but you know how that goes ... when it comes down to a grand prize drawing, there's going to be only one lucky winner! And that's John Keys. Congratulations John!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Three new rides on stayontrails.com include the Lolo Motorway and two big rides from Whitebird

On the way into Pittsburg Landing. 
Bighorn sheep are commonly seen in Hells Canyon. 
Native American petroglyphs 
Lolo Motorway, a single-lane dirt road that traces the route that Lewis & Clark
took through the Lochsa River Country in northcentral Idaho. 
Purple mountain majesty in the Clearwater National Forest
Kirkwood Museum and Ranch 
Hi all,

It's springtime in Idaho. The mountains are greening up, and the wildflowers are blooming everywhere. It's time to go riding!

We've recently added three new rides to stayontrails.com that are worth experiencing no matter where you live in Idaho. In fact, most states would love to have rides like these in their state. One of them is a great destination for this summer - the Lolo Motorway, Forest Service Road #500, which traces the route of the Lewis & Clark Corps of Discovery, as they slogged their way through the Lochsa River country in thick timber and snow. More about that below.

Two other rides, recommended by the Idaho Pathfinders ATV Club in Whitebird, are perfect to ride in the spring, or basically, right now!

  • Whitebird to Pittsburg LandingThe Deer Creek Road, Forest Service Road #493, is a well-signed and well-maintained gravel road that climbs more than 3,000 feet to a high saddle and then descends more than 3,200 feet over to Pittsburg Landing, a major boat ramp for jet boats and float boats, in Hells Canyon, the deepest gorge in North America. The ride is 34 miles over and back. The scenery is stunningly beautiful.  
    Pittsburg Landing is also an overnight camping destination, and there are Native American petroglyphs in the vicinity. This is a scenic ride that's suitable for motorbikes, ATVs and UTVs. It is a county road, so a street-legal license is required on your OHV. The Deer Creek Road also gets a fair bit of traffic by trucks hauling boats over to Pittsburg Landing, so it's important to drive defensively and watch out for traffic on blind corners on the way up and the way down.

    Click on the link above for the full details, video and trip map. We also mention a 22-mile side trip to Big Canyon.
  • Whitebird to the Historic Kirkwood Ranch and Museum The day-long ride from Whitebird to the Historic Kirkwood Ranch and Museum in Hells Canyon is a real treat. It features more than 5,000 vertical feet of climbing as you ascend the mountains from Whitebird toward Pittsburg Saddle, and then you'll stay on a high ridge over to the Kirkwood Corrals before you descend into Hells Canyon to visit the Kirkwood Ranch and Museum. Total distance is about 29 miles one-way to the Kirkwood Museum, or about 60 miles round-trip. The ride follows major Forest Service roads, so it's open to motorbikes, ATVs and UTVs. You'll be on county roads, so a street-legal license is required on your OHV. Be sure to drive defensively and watch out for traffic on blind corners on the way up and the way down.

    Click on the link above for the full details, video and trip map.
  • Lolo Motorway/Lewis & Clark TrailATV and UTV groups like to ride the Lolo Motorway in four days, hauling trailers with camping gear. The best place to start is from Lowell, 99 miles east of Lewiston, Idaho. Three Rivers Resort in Lowell has an RV park with hookups where you can base camp prior to the ride. The standard approach is to ride from Lowell approximately 50 miles or so to a half-way point for the first night's camp. On the second night, you can plan on staying in the tiny town of Powell, where you can refuel, buy any supplies you need, take a shower, and stay at the Lochsa Lodge or camp nearby.

    Then you retrace your tracks, ride another 50 miles or so from Powell to a point where you'd like to camp on the #500 road, and then return to Lowell on the fourth day. It's about 110 miles from Powell to Lowell, all on Forest Service dirt roads. There are many historical points various points of interest listed below often have an interpretive sign to explain the historical significance. There are numerous places where you can camp along the way. There are no services on the trail, so it would be self-support camping. Much of the trail follows a high ridge without access to water, so be sure to bring plenty of water for drinking during the day, and for camping.

    The Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest maintains the single-lane dirt road for four-wheel-drives, ATVs, UTVs, and other recreational vehicles during the summer months. The best time to visit is between late June and September. Otherwise, you may encounter snow.

    Click on the link above for the full details, video and trip map. 
If you have a favorite OHV ride that you think we should add to stayontrails.com, please let us know! Write Steve at sstuebner@cableone.net to share your ride. 

Have fun!