IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (KIFI) – With snow melting at lower elevations, the urge to get out on the forest creates the need for everyone to respect our natural resources through responsible outdoor behavior.
Winter is still alive and well at higher elevations. Take for instance the Ashton/Island Park area, which still has more than a foot of snow on many of the roads. This also includes paved roads, like the Mesa Falls Scenic Byway, which will not open until the middle part of May.
Visitation to the Caribou-Targhee National Forest is increasing as more individuals turn to the outdoors to rid themselves of cabin fever.
“We ask that people be considerate and recreate responsibly,” Caribou-Targhee Forest Supervisor Mel Bolling said. “Many forest roads are still covered in snow. Those that aren’t, are in the awkward time between snowmelt, mud and dry conditions, and severe resource damage is possible.”
Know the rules before you go. Soggy spring conditions on trails, roads and hillsides leave land and water resources in a vulnerable condition. Vehicle use on saturated trails, roads and hillside areas can easily damage the land causing permanent ruts, bog holes and erosion. Driving cross-country by motorized wheeled vehicles is prohibited on National Forest lands. This includes driving off-road to avoid a mudhole or snow drift which damages resources, creates ruts and is considered an unauthorized route. Ruts and bogs create additional maintenance needs that are costly to repair. Regardless of how many times you’ve visited the area in the past, you need to consider the current condition of the trails or roads you intend to use.
Officials ask users to stay on designated travel routes and use good judgment regarding travel on roads and trails. Please refer to the district Motor Vehicle Use Map (MVUM) and visitor maps available online at https://www.fs.usda.gov/main/ctnf/maps-pubs to understand your recreational travel opportunities.