Beaver Creek Fire Area Still Closed


By Paul Johnson

Ketchum, Idaho ( KMVT-TV / KSVT-TV ) - The majority of the Beaver Creek Fire area within the Ketchum Ranger that burned in August and was severely eroded by heavy rains in September 2013, will remain closed this summer. If conditions on-the-ground stabilize with vegetative regrowth additional areas within the fire area may be opened.

The Special Order closing the area applies to all human use including hiking, mountain biking, motorcycling, horseback riding, and mushroom gathering due to public safety concerns. Of highest concern are eroded roads and trails, softened soil, burned roots creating trail depressions, damaged bridges and culverts, and snag trees.

“I have been, and continue to be, concerned with the hazards that exist in this area due to fire damage,” said Kurt Nelson, Ketchum District Ranger. “Until we can fully assess the damage, fully implement a restoration plan, and begin to see accomplishments that mitigate the hazards, public use of this area is dangerous and prohibited.”

In addition, the vegetation and wildlife are only slowly recovering and are in a fragile condition.
Nelson said that high severity fires increase water runoff and burned vegetation such as brush and roots are no longer holding soil in place creating dangerous conditions. Nelson added a key ingredient to protect and preserve the road and trail systems is user compliance.

Work to rehabilitate and repair the fire damage has begun. Grass seed and mulch were applied to several severely burned areas by helicopter in the early winter and will continue in May. Volunteer efforts are planned to help establish sagebrush and bitterbrush consumed by the fire. Work crews will be repairing roads in Deer Creek, Warm Springs, and Baker Creek drainages. In addition, Ketchum Ranger District staff and volunteers have begun trail rehabilitation efforts in the Cow Creek, Lodgepole Gulch, and Mahoney Butte areas north and west of Greenhorn Trailhead.

“Coordination with several user groups and volunteer organizations is occurring, but repairing the vast and significant damage will take some time,” said Nelson. “We are optimistic good progress will be made throughout the coming year, and are eager to reopen roads, trails, and areas as soon as they are safe for public use.”

Violation of the closure is punishable by up to 6 months in jail and/or a $5000 dollar fine.

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