Friday, June 25, 2010

Flooding, construction will impact OHV recreation this summer

Buckhorn Bridge washout

South Fork Salmon River Road washout

Record precipitation this spring, combined with heavy rain in May and early June across Central Idaho have had a big impact on trails, washed out bridges and damaged roads, causing an impact to OHV recreation opportunities this summer, including the loss of some OHV travelways.

The washouts only add to the impacts expected this summer when several road construction projects will be active, thanks in large part to federal stimulus funding.

Heavy precipitation caused numerous road washouts on the Boise and Payette national forests as well as some county roads. On the Payette National Forest, the South Fork Salmon River flooded out several hundred feet of the paved road along its bank and also took out the OHV bridge leading to the Buckhorn Bar (Teapot Mountain Loop) trail.

Because the bridge across the South Fork Salmon River is gone, the loop between Buckhorn Bar Campground and Camp Creek Campground is no longer a loop. An alternative access is available by Jakie Creek near the Reed Ranch landing strip, so a trail user can go out and back the same way.

Meanwhile, the Lewiston Morning Tribune reported May 20th that “people planning outings to the Clearwater and Nez Perce National Forests could experience some inconvenience this summer as contractors funded by federal stimulus money work to upgrade trails, roads and campgrounds.”

Dozens of projects on those two national forests are slated for construction this summer, and there may be temporary road closures and traffic delays as a result in numerous locations. Similar projects are planned on other national forests in Idaho. More than $100 million in projects are targeted in Idaho of the $1.15 billion in Federal Recovery Act funds that was appropriated by Congress to the U.S. Forest Service.

Clearwater Forest Supervisor Rick Brazell says the government agencies will be working with local news media outlets to provide the public notice of temporary closures when they occur. "The main thing would be to check the website, and if they still have concerns, to give a call to the district offices and ask if this campground or road or this trail is open," he said. "It is going to be a challenge for us because we have so many projects going on at one time this summer."

Please feel free to share information about road and trail closures in the comments below the blog or on the Stay on Trails Facebook page. Thank you. - Andy Brunelle, U.S. Forest Service