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BURLEY — The U.S. Forest Service Minidoka Ranger District, in cooperation with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, is considering changes to hunting season route restrictions on the Cassia Division, Unit 54, of the district that exist from Oct. 1 to Oct. 31. Proposed is the removal of seasonal restrictions on routes 255, 256, 257 and 258 and replacing them with seasonal route restrictions elsewhere in the Cassia Division.

Existing seasonal restrictions on these four routes were established as part of the Travel Management Planning Decision completed in 2008. The restrictions were designed to provide some areas of big game habitat security — drainages without roads — and areas for non-motorized hunting and recreational opportunities. With high road densities and relatively few roadless drainages compared to most other National Forest System lands, the proposal seeks to address the original need.

Existing seasonal restrictions on these routes are ineffective. Monitoring and observations show drivers frequently and easily drive around the gates.

Four potential areas have been identified where seasonal motorized restrictions would be suitable and more effective: Badger Mountain, Langford Flat, McMullen and Tunnel Hill. Not all four would be selected for the route restrictions. For scale, these four areas include approximately 6% of the total legal road and trail miles in the Cassia Division.

The current route restriction and potential areas include the following details:

  • Removal of existing seasonal restrictions on routes 255, 256, 257 and 258 providing access to 7.44 miles of roads to motorized recreation with access to 11,350 acres
  • McMullen — Three new gates, 6¼ miles of seasonal road restrictions and five miles of single-track motorcycle seasonal trail restrictions with an 8,543-acre block of roadless habitat created by seasonal restrictions
  • Langford Flat — Three existing gates, four new gates, 23 miles of seasonal road restrictions and 3.7 miles of single-track motorcycle seasonal trail restrictions with a 10,681-acre block of roadless habitat created by seasonal restrictions
  • Tunnel Hill — Three new gates, 6.8 miles of seasonal road restrictions with a 9,266-acre block of roadless habitat created by seasonal restrictions
  • Badger Mountain — Four new gates, seven miles of seasonal road restrictions and about five miles of single-track motorcycle seasonal trail restrictions with an 18,529-acre block of roadless habitat created by seasonal restrictions

The district will consider alternative route restrictions identified by the public. The dates for any new seasonal route restrictions would likely remain the same as the current dates which include the month of October during the mule deer any-weapon hunt in Unit 54.

The Forest Service recognizes the popularity of the South Hills and surrounding area for the variety of uses and opportunities it provides to the public. Final areas with restrictions and the dates will be made after public input and scoping. It is anticipated that decisions for this project will be made in the fall of 2020.

To review the proposed action, maps, route statistics and FAQs, go to fs.usda.gov/project/?project=56837. Updates will be posted on the Sawtooth National Forest Facebook page.

Electronic comments can be e-mailed to comments-intermtn-sawtooth-minidoka@fs.fed.us and must be sent in a format such as plain text —.txt, rich text format —.rtf, or Word —.docx. Indicate “South Hills Seasonal Closures Project” in the subject line.

You may provide any issues, concerns, suggestions or additional information to Minidoka Ranger District, Attn: Scott Soletti, 2306 Hiland Ave., Burley, ID 83318, or you can contact the Minidoka Ranger District office at 208-678-0430.

Minidoka Ranger District office hours are from 8 a.m. to noon and 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. It is closed on holidays.

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