Access to Idaho's Recreation Offerings A Moving Target 

Battling fires, E. coli and erosion

This edition of Rec News is dedicated to the idea of access.

Let's start with physical access: The Boise National Forest has reopened a section of Forest Road 327 (also known as the North Fork of the Boise River Road) after a washout closed the road earlier this year. Crews had to move the road further from the river to hopefully avoid future washouts.

And now on to access you might want to reconsider for the time being. The Department of Environmental Quality announced that levels of the E. coli bacteria in the Mores Creek arm of Lucky Peak Reservoir exceeded state water quality standards on July 3. To avoid contracting something rather nasty, officials are asking the public to stay out of the water around the Robie Creek Beach area until further notice.

In news of improving access, mountain bikers and hikers along Boise's Ridge to Rivers trail system may have already noticed a change in the Freestone Trail. A 600-foot section of new trail was created in early June to replace a section that has long suffered from erosion problems.

Crews closed the old section of trail and planted new vegetation while moving the trail so that it now contours across the hillside with a much-less-steep decline. The revamped trail is roughly 350 feet longer, but the grade has been reduced from 20 percent to 7 percent.

And our final access topic of the week is keeping access to public lands open to everyone by paying attention to fire danger. Well publicized wildfires across the West have already had a major impact this summer, and according to the fire forecast from the National Interagency Fire Center, things are only going to get more dangerous.

The Significant Fire Potential Outlook report shows worsening drought conditions across the West combined with below-normal moisture content in vegetation and an above-normal chance of lightning from storms coming from the south through the rest of the summer and into fall. All in all, that ain't good.

The report also calls for above-normal significant fire potential in the Western Great Basin in both July and August.

Since most of the recent fires have been human-caused, it's time to be extra careful and pay attention not only to fire closures on national forests, but take precautions when it comes to anything that could spark and start a fire, from discarded cigarettes to hot car engines over dry grass.

For specific closures, check the websites for whatever national forest, park or Bureau of Land Management area you plan to visit.

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