Friday, December 24, 2010

Warm Springs closed to protect elk

National forest land off-limits until spring

Express Staff Writer

A herd of roughly 70 elk gathers in the Warm Springs Creek drainage last week. Access to Sawtooth National Forest lands off Warm Springs Road has been closed for the season to reduce stress on wintering elk, which need to save energy reserves to survive the winter. Photo by Willy Cook

The anticipated public closure of national forest land in the Warm Springs Creek drainage west of Ketchum is now in effect, the agency announced Tuesday.

All national forest land north of Warm Springs Road from the West Fork of Warm Springs east to Ketchum are posted with closure signs at normal access points. It applies primarily to the south-facing slopes along Warm Springs Road running from the Warm Springs bridge to just before Bassett Gulch to the west.

The closure is due to the migration of wintering elk into the region. Bill Whitaker, range technician for the Ketchum Ranger District, said the closure is meant to limit human contact with wintering animals, which need all their energy reserves to survive the winter.

"The closure keeps the animals from expending energy in trying to avoid humans," Whitaker stated in a press release. "If visitors see any wintering animals in the backcountry, they should keep their distance."

Forest Service spokeswoman Julie Thomas said the closures will likely be in effect until early spring, when elk begin to migrate out of the area.

"They're a beautiful animal, but people don't realize the stress they cause [the elk]," Thomas said. "We get a lot of lookie-loos."

Thomas said the agency has not had serious problems with violators of the closures. The drainage has undergone annual elk closures since 1999.

She urged recreationists to call the Ketchum Ranger District at 622-5371 for more information on the closures.

Katherine Wutz:

 Local Weather 
Search archives:

Copyright © 2021 Express Publishing Inc.   Terms of Use   Privacy Policy
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.