Friday, July 4, 2014

Forest Service opens more trails

Closures slowly being lifted since Beaver Creek Fire

Express Staff Writer

     More roads and trails on the Ketchum Ranger District closed since the Beaver Creek Fire last August are being opened in time for the Fourth of July holiday weekend.

     Baker Creek Road north of Ketchum, which has been closed at a point about three miles from state Highway 75 at the junction with the East Fork of Baker Creek, is now open to provide access to the Norton Lake and Baker Lake trails. District Ranger Kurt Nelson said crews have been working on the road for the past three weeks replacing culverts and rebuilding drainage ditches.

     “We’ve been shifting the crews around, repairing fire damage,” he said.

     Nelson said numerous trees are still down across the Norton Lake and Baker Lake trails, and that log walkways have been rebuilt across wet areas but have spikes sticking up along the sides from the old walkways.

     Deer Creek Road, north of Hailey, has been opened as far as Wolftone Creek, about seven miles from the highway. Beyond that, foot traffic only will be allowed.

     Camping in the Deer Creek drainage remains prohibited, for safety reasons.

     “We’ve still got pretty high potential for debris flows and flash floods,” Nelson said.

     He said sections of the road above Wolftone Creek were washed away by floods and have not been rebuilt.

     “We haven’t figured that one out yet,” he said.

     Nelson emphasized that some trails in the drainages remain closed, and asked that hikers respect the closure signs. He said damage done to fragile trails will only prolong the closures.

     He said Northwest Youth Corps crews are still working on rebuilding the Greenhorn and Imperial Gulch trails, and he hopes to have those open sometime between July 10 and July 15.

     “We’re making really good progress,” he said.

     Nelson said he expects that about 12 Youth Corps crews, of 12 people each, will be working on the district by later this summer. The Eugene, Ore.-based organization offers teenagers an education-based work experience modeled after the Civilian Conservation Corps of the 1930s.

     The Beaver Creek Fire burned more than 110,000 acres of land on the west side of the Wood River Valley last August. The burn area ranged from west of Hailey north to areas about 10 miles north of Ketchum.

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