|Burned bridge in the fire zone. (Courtesy Boise National Forest)|
|Deep holes like this exist along some of the trails ... (Courtesy Boise National Forest)|
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.”
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.