Friday, May 6, 2005

Spring trail closures instituted

Handful of local trails open for business

Express Staff Writer

A handful of local trails are open, but U.S. Forest Service officials and local trial advocates are cautioning that patience now will pay off in spades when the weather gets warmer and drier.

"A little bit of patience now goes a long ways toward having the trails be the way we expect them to be later on," said Steve Deffe, a member of Big Wood Backcountry Trails. "Hang in there. It'll happen quick."

Warm weather has prompted the Forest Service to enact seasonal travel restrictions on several popular Ketchum Ranger District roads and trails until dry conditions return. Trails that are open include Lane's Trail and Sunnyside, both in Adams Gulch. However, the majority of forest trails and roads remain closed.

Affected roads are closed to all wheeled vehicles, and affected trails are closed to all uses. All closed roads and trails are signed in prominent locations, and people found violating the seasonal closures are subject to a $100 fine on roads and a $75 fine on trails.

The closures are put in place each spring and are enacted to minimize erosion during the spring thaw. They will be lifted as the trails dry out.

"We have been enacting these closures since 1991," said Jeff Halligan, a trails specialist with the Sawtooth National Forest's Ketchum Ranger District. "People now realize that by waiting a few weeks for things to dry out, roads and trails are not damaged and are in better condition for the busy summer and fall recreation seasons."

A list of the closed roads and trails is available at the Ketchum Ranger District and Sawtooth National Recreation Area offices, as well as the Ketchum-Sun Valley Chamber & Visitor's Bureau and at many local outdoor retailers.

Closures will be monitored and updated weekly.

"This spring, trained volunteers from Big Wood Backcountry Trails are helping us monitor the trails, so we expect our signing and information updates to be the most accurate we've ever had," Halligan said.

And Deffe added that even though some trails are open, people should consider avoiding them on very wet days, like Thursday.

"On a day like today, it might be a good day to bring your road bike out," he said.

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