BOISE, ID - The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Four Rivers Field Office has temporarily closed approximately 54,200 acres of public land to all human uses (all-entry) until April 30, 2014, due to the August 2013 Pony and Elk fires. The acres have also been closed year-round to all motorized vehicles for up to three years. The closures are necessary to support fire rehabilitation efforts and to protect crucial winter habitat for mule deer and elk, and key sage-grouse habitat.
The southeastern edge of the closure area is located about seven miles north of Mountain Home, Idaho, and extends 5-7 miles north of the Immigrant and Foothill roads.
Outside of the area closed to all entry, all other forms of non-motorized travel are allowed, to accommodate general recreational use that occurs in the area. During the seasonal all-entry closure, only authorized personnel will be allowed in the area. State Highway 20, county-maintained roads, and the Long Tom Reservoir Road will remain open to general public use during both closures.
In the fall, the BLM will evaluate seasonal whether the seasonal all-entry closure will be needed in 2015, depending on the rate of recovery of the area and condition of the wintering elk and mule deer populations. Significant loss of crucial deer winter range and other wildlife habitat occurred in the Pony and Elk fires.
Various organizations (volunteer, conservation, and user groups such as Blue Ribbon Coalition and grazing permittees), Elmore County Commissioners and the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) were consulted about the closures and support them as a way to facilitate wildlife habitat restoration and reduce wildlife disturbance. The BLM worked closely with the US Forest Service and IDFG in crafting the motorized closure. The all-entry closure was added at the request of IDFG to protect mule deer and elk during a critical time of the year.
The motorized vehicle closure will allow existing plants time to recover from the effects of the fire; allow seeded shrub, forb, and grass species to become established; help to slow the spread of noxious weeds; and allow burned areas to re-establish a vegetative cover which protects the soil from erosion and provides for moisture retention. The all-entry closure will help minimize human disturbance to mule deer and elk herds during a critical time of the year and help to ensure the long-term viability of their habitat.
Temporary closure signs have been posted at key entry points to the burned area. Compliance with the closure will ensure successful burned area recovery. Anyone violating the closure may be tried before a United States Magistrate and fined up to $1,000., imprisoned for up to 12 months, or both. Violators may also be subject to additional fines.
Exempt from this closure are contractors hired by the BLM to work in the area; search and rescue personnel; Federal, State or local law enforcement officials; other employees in the performance of their official duties; and persons with written authorization from the BLM.
View the closure map online at http://www.blm.gov/id/st/en/advisories-closures.html. Closure maps are also available for viewing at BLM Offices, the USFS Mountain Home Ranger District office and the Idaho Department of Fish and Game office in Nampa.
For more information, please contact Larry Ridenhour at 208-384-3334.
The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land, the most of any Federal agency. This land, known as the National System of Public Lands, is primarily located in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. The BLM's mission is to manage and conserve the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations under our mandate of multiple-use and sustained yield. In Fiscal Year 2013, the BLM generated $4.7 billion in receipts from public lands.