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Salmon-Challis fire

Firefighters battle the Salmon-Challis National Forest Fire Aug. 9, 2018.

BOISE — Fall on the Salmon-Challis National Forest is one of the most beautiful times of year, yet it can be the busiest with many hunting opportunities to be found on the forest. For more information, view a video at bit.ly/2dlbZGb.

Travel management

In order to protect public lands and natural resources, the Forest Service reminds visitors of the importance of using designate routes. Salmon-Challis National Forest Travel Planning designates 2,637 miles of roads and 850 miles of trails for motor vehicle use. Motor vehicle use maps show the roads and trails that are open to the public for motorized use at various times of the year. Roads and trails that are not open for motorized use are not shown on the map. Most scenic overlooks, dispersed campsites indicated on the map — within 300 feet of most roads and 100 feet of most motorized trails, historical sites and popular travel routes are still accessible to motorized users. Motorized travel off the designated routes is not allowed. Staying on the designated routes provides positive benefits to wildlife, water, other natural resources and social values.

The Salmon-Challis National Forest motor vehicle use maps consist of five separately printed maps for the Lost River District, the Challis-Yankee Fork District, the Middle Fork District, the Salmon-Cobalt and North Fork Districts and the Leadore District. The maps are available at Forest Service offices in Salmon, Challis, Mackay, Leadore and North Fork. Stop by your local office to get your map before your hunt or fall trip into the woods. To download maps, go to bit.ly/2ea2VTF.

In the Salmon-Challis National Forest area, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game Motorized Hunting Rule only applies to hunting units 29, 30, 30A, 36A, 37, 37A, 50, 51 and 58. These units lie mainly to the east of the Salmon River. This rule applies to hunters using motorized vehicles to aid in hunting. The rule is specific to hunting of big game animals including moose, bighorn sheep and mountain goat and applies in designated units from Aug. 30 to Dec. 31. Between these dates and in the designated units, hunters may use motorized vehicles only on established roadways that are open to motorized traffic and capable of being traveled by full-sized automobiles.

Applying the Fish and Game Motorized Hunting Rule to the Salmon-Challis travel plan means use of designated trails to aid in hunting is restricted to the following:

  • If motorized travel is authorized on any trail on the map, you may use a motorized vehicle to retrieve downed game or pack your camping equipment in or out.
  • If motorized travel is authorized on any trail on the map, you may not hunt or shoot from the trail while traveling on your motorized vehicle. You can travel the authorized trail with your motorized vehicle to retrieve downed game or pack your camping equipment in or out.

For more information, visit your local Idaho Fish and Game Office or the Public Lands Center in Salmon or go to bit.ly/IDFGMHR.

Fire danger

Fire managers remind forest visitors that the Central Idaho Dispatch Zone is in moderate fire danger. Wildfires can still occur. Go to #KnowBeforeYouGo and do your part to ensure you do not start a wildfire.

Forest officials are asking the public to be extremely careful when camping and to remember that it’s your job and responsibility to properly maintain and extinguish all campfires:

  • Never leave a campfire unattended. Always add water, stir it and make sure all embers are out. If it’s too hot to touch, it’s too hot to leave.
  • Always use a campfire ring or fire pan when building a campfire.

If you are planning a hunting, camping, hiking or motorized trip, be especially cautious about actions that could cause a wildfire:

  • Recreational shooting? Take precautions. Never shoot into dry vegetation and always make sure you’re shooting in a safe location. Be aware that shooting of exploding targets is not allowed on National Forest System lands in the Intermountain Region.
  • Refrain from smoking in wooded, grassy or brushy areas. Make sure your cigarette is fully extinguished before leaving the area.
  • Fireworks are illegal on public lands — every forest, every campsite, every day. Never light fireworks in the woods.
  • Ensure your vehicle is properly maintained with nothing dragging on the ground. A loose safety chain or dangling muffler can send a shower of sparks into dry vegetation.
  • Keep vehicles off dry grass. The catalytic converter may contact the vegetation and start a fire.
  • Always carry a shovel and fire extinguisher.

Be cautious out there. Should you start a wildfire, even if it’s by accident, you could be held liable for damages and firefighting costs.

To report a wildfire, call 208-756-5157 or 911 as soon as possible.

Current conditions

Forest visitors should be aware that weather conditions such as precipitation and wind can rapidly change conditions on the ground, especially in fire areas. Wind can blow trees across roadways and precipitation can wash debris across them — blocking access and raising stream and river levels.

Forest visitors must be prepared to stay longer than expected due to changing circumstances. Preparation for the unexpected is the best plan a forest visitor can have. Items to consider include:

  • Adequate food, water, clothing, sleeping bags and other provisions needed in case an extended stay is necessary in the area of travel
  • Chainsaw and fuel, handsaw and shovel in case trees or other debris blocks road access
  • Communications that will work in the area they plan to travel — cell phone, satellite phone or satellite emergency notification device
  • Forest visitors should inform someone they know about where they are going and when they plan to be back in case an emergency situation arises.

The Forest Service encourages visitors to enjoy the motor vehicle roads and trails by following travel management guidelines to minimize erosion impacts, aid in wildlife protection, provide non-motorized recreation and hunting opportunities and protect natural resource values.

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