Bureau of Land Management to temporarily close Mineral Ridge trail system, recreation area to protect public safety during damaged tree removal
COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho – The windstorm that swept through the north Idaho area in mid-January left a path of downed trees at the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) popular Mineral Ridge Scenic Area and National Recreation Trail. Downed trees from the storm have impacted the trail system and the adjacent public lands.
Removal of the downed trees in a timely manner is important to minimize insect infestations. Especially in the windthrown ponderosa pine, the predominant tree species at Mineral Ridge, pine engraver beetles can move in quickly and attack not only the downed trees but healthy, standing trees as well. In addition, removing hazardous fuels left behind by the windstorm prevents the future threat of wildfire.
In order to prevent disease and bug infestations as well as recover the value of the downed timber, the BLM’s Coeur d’Alene Field Office will conduct a small salvage timber sale at the Mineral Ridge site. The operation will focus on windblown trees but will also include addressing standing hazard trees that suffered damage during the storm or have been identified to be at risk of falling, causing a potential safety hazard to the public.
The Mineral Ridge trail system and surrounding recreation area will be fully closed to the public while salvage logging efforts are underway. The temporary closure is necessary for public safety while heavy equipment works in the area. The closure will include the Mineral Ridge parking lot, picnic shelter, restrooms and all trail systems within the closure boundary. A map of the closure area can be found at: https://www.blm.gov/visit/mineral-ridge-scenic-area-and-national-recreation-trail
The temporary closure is expected to be implemented in early April, although a firm date has not been determined and will depend upon weather conditions. The closure may extend up to three weeks in order to complete the downed tree removal and rehabilitate the trail system.
“We recognize that any closure to the Mineral Ridge trail system is going to disappoint outdoor recreationists, however, in order for us to safely complete work at the site, it is necessary,” said Scott Pavey, acting Coeur d’Alene Field Office Manager. “We will monitor the logging activity and reopen the trail and recreation area as soon as it is safe to do so. We appreciate the public’s cooperation and understanding of the closure, and we hope to provide an even better recreation experience when the work is complete.”
The BLM suggests several alternative hiking areas during the temporary closure. The Blue Creek Bay recreation site in the Wallace Forest Conservation Area is located a few miles north of Mineral Ridge off Yellowstone Trail Road and offers over 4 miles of trails with filtered views of Lake Coeur d’Alene. On the west side of Lake Coeur d’Alene, the BLM’s John C. Pointer Memorial Wildlife Sanctuary trail system in Cougar Bay offers nearly 2 miles of hiking trails and a viewpoint overlooking the City of Coeur d’Alene.
The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land located primarily in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. The agency’s mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. Diverse activities authorized on these lands generated $111 billion in economic output across the country in fiscal year 2019—more than any other agency in the Department of the Interior. These activities supported more than 498,000 jobs.