The Beaver Creek Fire burned more than 100,000 acres of forest and sage steppe last summer and left miles of hiking and biking trails off limits to outdoor enthusiasts.
Many trails will be out of commission until spring 2015, when trail rebuilding can take place. Volunteers are needed to help with trail rehabilitation.
The Wood River Bicycle Coalition, along with the Sawtooth National Forest, Shoshone BLM and the Blaine County Recreation District, will host a public meeting next week to discuss the future of local trails impacted by the fire. The meeting will take place from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 4, in the Minnie Moore Room of the Community Campus.
Topics to be discussed will include: which trails were impacted from the fire and post-fire rain events; current and future status; closure and rehabilitation plans; volunteer opportunities; and alternative trails/roads to use over the next few years while trails are being reconstructed. There will also be a question-and-answer period.
“We want to let people know what is still closed and why these trails are closed, and begin discussing alternative routes that can be used for the next two years,” said John Kurtz, outdoor recreation planner for the Shoshone BLM field office.
“Rehabilitation efforts are certainly bolstered by community support,” said Brett Stevenson, executive director of the Wood River Bicycle Coalition. “The Wood River Bicycle Coalition will continue to work with BLM and Kecthum Ranger District to do what we can to rehabilitate damaged areas and reopen the trails that we all love.”
Kurtz said 85 percent of non-motorized, single-track trails in the Croy Creek trail system west of Hailey are closed, and will remain closed until the spring of 2015. Only Hidden Valley, the Bullion Connector and Hatties trail, several miles west of the main trail system, will remain open.
Trails in the Ketchum Ranger District in the Greenhorn Gulch area are also closed until further notice.
“We want to let people know what is still closed, and why these trails are closed.”
“The trails that burned got a sheet flow of mud afterward,” said Kurtz. He said the mud destroyed sections of trails, from 20 feet to one-quarter-mile long in Croy Canyon.
“In some cases the trails disappeared completely,” Kurtz said. “Rain next spring could bring down more mud, so we want to make sure the hillsides and soils above the trails become reasonably stable before investing money and time in rebuilding them.”
Kurtz said the trail closures would also decrease the spread of noxious weeds in the burned areas.
“With no vegetation for the next year or two, it is very tempting to cut new trails, but we do not want that to occur,” Kurtz said. “There is quite a mix of public and private land out there, and we don’t want people to trespass.”
Kurtz said there are several dirt roads open for hiking and biking, including Colorado Gulch, Quigley Road and Slaughterhouse and Muldoon Canyon roads in Bellevue.
Those interested in volunteering time for trail work or providing financial support can contact the Wood River Bicycle Coalition at firstname.lastname@example.org.