Winter Wildlife Closures Lifted on May 1st on the Bridger-Teton National Forest
by Bridger-Teton National Forest
April 28, 2016
The Bridger-Teton National Forest begins opening Forest roads to wheeled motor vehicle travel May 1, however due to lingering snow, and the recent rains and wet conditions, some roads are still impassable. "Right now the road surface is good, but if we get any wet weather this week, it could get a bit sloppy," said Jackson District Ranger Dale Dieter.
The Gros Ventre and Curtis Canyon gates will open at midnight on April 30th, 2016. The road up Curtis Canyon is drivable up to just above the upper switchbacks, before the junction to the Goodwin lake trailhead. The Flat Creek Road will be open up to a barrier located at the Forest kiosk. In the Gros Ventre Road, visitors will be able to drive to the upper gate at Slate Creek and use non-motorized means of transport beyond that point.
The Fall Creek road will open on Sunday May 1st, 2016 in the morning. Other roads on the Jackson Ranger District will remain closed. The Granite Creek road still has ice patches and continuous snow on the road once you pass the Safari Club. The Shadow Mountain and Ditch Creek roads are still snow covered and have gates or barriers in place. The North Fork of Fall Creek Road is snow covered and has a barrier in place just past the Pine Glen subdivision. The Mosquito Creek Road is drivable to the gate which is scheduled to open June 1st 2016 as per the travel plan for the Forest.
The Bridger-Teton endeavors to open some lower elevation roads by Memorial Day weekend Ė but some years the wet conditions prevent that from happening. "When roads are wet, vehicle travel can cause considerable resource damage by creating deep ruts," said Dieter. Road widening can also occur when vehicles drive around deep pools of water. "The chances of getting stuck are higher earlier in the season also," he said.
Off-Highway-Vehicles (OHV) trails for motorized access and recreation will open June 1st or July 1st as indicated on the Motorized Vehicle Use Map. Visitors to the Bridger-Teton National Forest can obtain free copies of motor vehicle use map by visiting http://www.fs.usda.gov/main/btnf/maps-pubs. No wheeled motor vehicle travel is permitted off of designated roads. "The higher elevation roads take a long time to dry out after the winter. Even at lower elevations, pockets of wet areas can keep an entire road closed," Dieter said.
Many trails may also not be ready for mountain bikes and horseback riding. A mountain bike tread that leaves a rut creates a channel for water which can significantly erode a trail. Horse use on wet trails churns up the soil causing similar adverse effects. Hiking and walking is welcome on trails.
"Most Forest Service roads are not plowed during winter and the snow drifts are slow to melt especially on the north facing slopes and at higher elevations," said Dieter. "Spring saturation leaves travel routes vulnerable to damage by rutting and erosion, leading to expensive repairs," he said. Visitors are being asked to refrain from using soggy trails and roadways until they have dried out.
"It isnít just us that are itching to get out and moving on the Forest, but the bears are coming out too and we need to be responsible and remember to store our food and attractants in a manner that makes them unavailable to bears," said Dieter. "It is important that everyone keep a clean camp and put their food and coolers away before heading out for the day," he said.
With the chill in the morning area, many forest visitors like to have a warming fire before they begin their recreation, but the Forest reminds visitors that even though it isnít the heat of the summer, fires can still spread. Visitors must completely extinguish their fires before leaving the area.
"We also are encouraging people to be mindful of the high water in the streams and rivers," said Dieter. "We really want people to have a good time and enjoy their National Forest, but we urge visitors to recreate safely and responsibly," he said. For more information visit the Bridger-Teton National Forest webpage at www.fs.usda.gov/btnf.