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Back country closures begin soon

Austin Catlin
Mike Spencer Canyon

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK)-A number of Caribou-Targhee National Forest areas and roads will begin to close for the season between November 27 and December 15.

The seasonal closures are intended to protect winter range for a variety of reasons.  

“The forest has numerous seasonal wildlife closures areas,” said Kaye Orme, Forest Recreation Program Manager. “While each district is slightly different, the purposes are to protect winter range, wildlife and other natural resources.”

Lower elevations are used heavily by wildlife and biologists say its protection can be essential to their survival.

“When people enter closed winter range, animals are forced to move to new locations,” said Nate Yorgason, Wildlife Program Manager. “Moving away from people requires animals, such as deer, elk and moose, to use energy they cannot spare, leading to a weakened condition, which can have a direct effect on the animals’ ability to fend off disease or predators.” Winter travel restrictions are also aimed at preventing conflicts between numerous competing recreation uses as well as avoiding additional winter stress on wildlife.

Winter use maps are available at any Forest office or online.

The Forest Service will provide winter patrol presence through the season.  Travelers are encouraged to get acquainted with avalanche survival and remember to let someone know where you’re going and when you intend to return.

Some specific district information has already been posted:

Palisades (208-523-1412) – Dec. 15 marks the start of winter travel restrictions. Rainey Creek, areas in the Fall Creek drainage, and National Forest slopes above the South Fork of the Snake River near Heise are examples of areas where no human presence is allowed to protect wintering wildlife.  Other portions of the District are closed to all motorized use from December 15 – April 15.

Ashton-Island Park (208-652-7442) – Beginning Nov. 27, the Ashton-Island Park area will enter their winter travel restrictions. The closure on the Big Bend Ridge is currently in effect until Jan 1 to avoid disturbing migrating wildlife. The majority of south-facing slopes along the Teton Mountain Range area are also restricted. As long as snowpack continues, the Ashton/Island Park Ranger district anticipates grooming to start mid-December. Groomed cross country ski trails are closed to snowmobiles, dogs and snowshoers. Rental cabins are available for winter occupancy.

Dubois (208-374-5422) –Dubois Ranger District implements their seasonal closures when winter conditions merit. A news release will be issued before restrictions begin.

Teton Basin (208-354-2312)- Beginning Nov. 27 the majority of south-facing slopes on the Teton Mountain Range will be restricted. The gate to Teton Canyon closed on Nov. 20. As a gentle reminder, dogs must be on a leash at all trailheads and they are not allowed on the Southern Valley trail system from Dec. 1 through April 1.

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