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Public land misuse forces closures in Idaho

Public land in Idaho offers many chances for recreation, from camping to off-road riding to target shooting.
Public land misuse forces closures in Idaho
Published: Jun. 20, 2022 at 4:53 PM MDT
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Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) — Public land in Idaho offers many chances for recreation, from camping to off-road riding to target shooting.

Occasionally, however, officials are forced to shut down public lands, as was the case with the endowment land at the East Fork of Rock Creek in Power County.

“When a few bad apples decide to do things that damage the land and destroy its revenue-producing ability, we are left with no other option than closing that land to access,” said Scott Phillips with the Idaho Department of Lands. “It really is a last resort action for the department.”

Phillips says last year they tried to educate the public. It worked for a while, but the problem persisted this year, forcing them to shut down that area to camping and OHV riding.

“Just a lack of common sense,” Phillips said. “For example, if you pack it in, you need to pack it out. For day use areas that do not have restroom facilities, plan ahead and act appropriately, don’t leave this laying on the ground that no one wants to step on.”

This particular land was an endowment land, meaning the money raised from grazing and other activities generates money for the public school system in Idaho.

“Recreation though is secondary to the revenue-generating potential of the land, so when a few bad actors do things that result in the closure of land, it really reduces the opportunities for all Idahoans,” Phillips said.

Rich Gummersall with the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation says if we don’t educate and inform people about recreating responsibly, it’s only going to get worse.

“Stewardship is one of the most important things we can impart into the next generation to ensure that the generation after that has a safe place to ride,” Gummersall said.

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