Saturday, September 19, 2015

Land Managers Request Cooperation in Avoiding Areas Burned in Soda Fire to Assist Recovery Efforts

DATE: September 16, 2015

Marsing, Idaho – The Bureau of Land Management, Shoshone-Paiute Tribes and Owyhee County, Idaho, are asking residents and visitors to avoid the area burned in the recent Soda Fire while recovery efforts continue.

With fire rehabilitation and stabilization work in progress, the BLM is requesting cooperation in avoiding burned areas in the interest of safety and resource protection.

“We are asking recreationists and other public land users to work with us during recovery,” said BLM Owyhee Field Manager Michelle Ryerson. “Seeded vegetation needs time to establish and be effective in blocking the spread of weeds and invasive species. Burned areas need a vegetative cover to protect the soil from erosion and help retain moisture.”

The fire was 100 percent contained on August 23rd, but safety remains a concern for the public and workers in the area. Ryerson said target shooting in the burned area has made working conditions unsafe and inhibited the progress of rehabilitation. Dozer lines built during fire suppression have received some rehabilitation work and are not authorized for use as trails. She noted that non-compacted dirt, berms and water bars within the lines create hazards for OHV use.

Minimizing further stress to wildlife and additional soil and vegetation damage will also facilitate the success of rehabilitation and recovery efforts in the burned area. Owyhee County commissioners noted that a significant portion of the burned area is private and state land intermingled with the federal land. The Commissioners ask for equal respect from the public for all the lands affected by the fire.

The BLM, in conjunction with the Shoshone-Paiute Tribes and Owyhee County, will patrol and monitor entry into burned areas and assess whether tighter restrictions are necessary. Should public safety and resource impacts become an issue, the agencies may consider and implement a mandatory closure, Ryerson said.

BLM recreation areas and developed parking sites at Jump Creek, Wilson Creek, Hemingway Butte, Rabbit Creek, Scorpion Creek, Chalky Butte, Kane Springs, and Black Mountain remain sensitive and are best avoided. Alternate recreation sites listed below offer opportunities for hiking, camping, OHV riding, mountain biking, horseback riding and authorized target shooting.

As a reminder, when recreating in other areas of Owyhee County, the use of motorized vehicles, including ATVs and motorcycles, is limited to existing roads and trails outside designated Wilderness, where motorized and mechanized travel is prohibited.

Alternative Recreational Sites

Fossil Creek OHV trails are accessible between the Melba Junction and Oreana on Highway-78. A trail map is available online or at the BLM offices in Boise and Marsing.

Silver City offers camping and hiking in a partially restored 19th-century mining town in the Owyhee Mountains.

Owyhee Back-Country Byway and North Fork Campground - At the western end of a scenic backcountry drive, camp and picnic on the North Fork of the Owyhee River Canyon, much of which is designated Wilderness.

Pickles Butte OHV Area in Jubilee Park, west of Nampa, Idaho, is a former military tank training compound with 370 acres of open riding.

Hulls Gulch National Recreation Trail is a quiet escape above the city in the Boise Foothills, at the end of 8th Street. The trail is for pedestrians only. Bicyclists and equestrians may enjoy the many other trails in the Ridge to Rivers Trail System.

Bruneau Dunes State Park offers hiking and equestrian trails, water and sand sports, an observatory and camping around the tallest single-structured sand dune in North America, in the high desert south of Mountain Home.

The 485,000-acre Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area has one of the world's densest concentrations of nesting birds of prey. In addition to outstanding bird and wildlife viewing, this area offers hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking, camping and target shooting.

The Danskin Trail System (US Forest Service) encompasses 60,000 acres and provides more than 150 miles of mountainous/high-desert motorcycle and ATV trails on the Boise National Forest, northwest of Mountain Home, Idaho.

Steck Park offers access to Brownlee Reservoir along the Snake River from the Idaho side of Hells Canyon, with two boat launching facilities and two camping areas, about 20 miles northwest of the town of Weiser.

The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land, the most of any Federal agency. This land, known as the National System of Public Lands, is primarily located in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. The BLM's mission is to manage and conserve the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations under our mandate of multiple-use and sustained yield. In Fiscal Year 2014, the BLM generated $5.2 billion in receipts from public lands.

CONTACTS: Jessica Gardetto, (208) 957-1355
Erin Curtis, (208) 373-4016,

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