CLEARWATER TRIBUNE HOME

JULY 1, 2010

Fourth of July National Forest recreation opportunities

   June 21 marked the first day of summer.  If you are looking forward to recreating in the Nez Perce and Clearwater National Forests, their offices offer information about campgrounds, roads and trails.  Some campgrounds have hosts who can provide information about outdoor attractions in the local area.  

   Camping is allowed at sites outside developed campgrounds. If you camp at a dispersed site, leave no trace of your stay. Use existing fire rings if available, and pack out your trash.

   Whether you choose a developed campground or a dispersed site, your stay is limited to 14 days at any one site.

Nez Perce Forest

   Reservation camping opportunities may be found by visiting www.recreation.gov or calling 1-877-444-6777.  Three options are: O’Hara, 7 miles east of Lowell along Selway River Road; Fish Creek Group Site, 1 mile past the Fish Creek Meadows Campground which is 7 miles south of Grangeville; and South Fork Group Use Site # 5 at the South Fork Campground located on Highway 14, east of Grangeville.

   Campgrounds with good access and sites for RV campers include O’Hara, Fish Creek, South Fork, Castle Creek and Spring Bar.  

Roads and Trails

   Due to snow conditions in the higher elevations, many roads and trails are not accessible.  

   The Magruder Corridor Road #468 is open to the 11 mile marker (Mountain Meadows) from the Red River Ranger Station. On the Bitterroot Forest side, the road is closed to all motorized vehicles just past the Magruder Crossing Campground as it heads towards Elk City, after a washed away section of road was recently discovered.

   As of June 28, from Highway 14 to the Orogrande "Y", the Crooked River Road on the Red River Ranger District is open and in good shape.  The road from Orogrande "Y" to Orogrande Summit is open and in good shape, for all vehicles.  Orogrande Summit campgrounds are clear of snow and open.  The road from Orogrande Summit to Wild Horse Lake is only passable for ATV, UTV and off-road vehicles; because of snow drifts, road flooding and deep mud.  These conditions should last for the next 10 days; then be usable for pickup trucks and other off-road vehicles.

   The Meadow Creek Trail #726 located on the Moose Creek Ranger District is closed to stock due to a landslide that removed 30 feet of the trail.  The closure starts at Little Creek and ends at the junction with Indian Hill Trail #603.  The trail remains open to foot travel; hikers are advised to proceed with caution.

   The Moose Creek Visitor Center located at the Fenn Ranger Station on the Selway River Road is open Saturday, July 3.  Hours are 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Fenn Pond is stocked and ready for folks to try their luck at fishing.  

   In Grangeville, the Forest Service Office is at 104 Airport Road located north of the truck route and is open Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.   Forest Service offices will be closed July 5.  Offices will resume normal business hours on Tuesday, July 6.

   For additional information call the Nez Perce National Forest Headquarters in Grangeville at 208-983-1950.  Or check online at http://fs.usda.gov/nezperce

Clearwater Forest

   Dozens of campsites in several Clearwater National Forest Service campgrounds will be open for visitors.  Most campgrounds offer first-come, first-served site selection, but a few campgrounds have sites that you can reserve;  Wilderness Gateway, 49 miles east of Kooskia along U.S. Highway 12; Powell, 12 miles west of the Idaho-Montana state line along Highway 12; and Elk Creek, one mile north of Elk River.  Call toll free at 877-444-6777, or reserve online at www.recreation.gov.

    Campgrounds with good access and sites for RV campers include Powell, Wendover and Whitehouse (a few miles west of Powell), Wilderness Gateway and Elk Creek. Powell and Elk Creek also have several electrical hookup sites.

   Along the North Fork Clearwater River, the popular Washington Creek, Weitas, Noe and Kelly Forks Campgrounds are up and running and waiting for Independence Day visitors. There are no overnight camping fees at Weitas Campground.

   The Hidden Creek Campground and The Cedars Campground are also open and ready for happy, high-country campers.

   The Aquarius Campground is open, but work is winding down on the North Fork District’s Aquarius Campground/Purple Beach Improvement Project and there’s a chance that quiet camping spots and isolated beachfront venues may be hard to come by. A new group site and a picnic area are being constructed and improvements, such as tables, fire rings, a concrete toilet and water distribution system, are being installed.

   North Fork District Ranger Doug Gober said that Purple Beach would also remain open; however, there will be no parking or camping at Purple Beach unless the work is completed. You’re welcome to contact the Clearwater National Forest Information Desk at (208)476-8267 for updates on the project.

On the Palouse Ranger District, the Giant White Pine, Laird Park and Little Boulder Campgrounds are great places to spend the long holiday weekend. If you’re planning a fun-filled 4th of July family get-together, the Palouse District also boasts three picnic sites that can be reserved; call (208) 875-1131 for more information or to make reservations.  

Roads

   Forest Service Road 250, the Pierce-Superior Road, is open from French Mountain all the way to Hoodoo Pass. The pass is soft and muddy and may not be the best choice for large RVs or horse trailers. Motorists should proceed with caution.

    Road 255, which runs from the Kelly Forks Work Center, along Kelly Creek and north through Deception Saddle, is open all the way to its northernmost junction with Road 250, three miles south of The Cedars Campground. Travelers should use caution when attempting to drive through or over any debris that they may encounter.

   The Beaver Creek Road, Road 247, is open from Headquarters to Bungalow. The segment from Skull Creek to Bungalow is soft and slippery. Drive carefully!

   Forest Road 500, the Lolo Motorway, and Road 581, Toboggan Ridge, remains closed due to snow. The last quarter-mile of Elk Summit Road 360 is also blocked by snow and may not be melted out prior to the 4th of July. Call the Powell Ranger Station at (208) 942-3113 for updates.

Trails

   Many Forest trails have been cleared of winter debris at lower elevations (below 3500-4000 foot elevations).  Check with your local ranger districts for a complete listing of trails recommended for your favorite activity.  Remember to stay on trails and yield to stock users.

   Holiday hikers may want to consider a leisurely trek along the popular Kelly Creek Trail, Trail 567. The trail is open from Moose Creek to the South Fork of Kelly Creek.

    Fish Lake Trail 419 is temporarily closed to all motorized vehicles. The trail will reopen later in July, when the trail’s surface dries out.

   For more information, call the Clearwater National Forest Information Desk in Orofino at 208-476-8267, or log on to www.fs.fed.us/r1/clearwater.

Forest safety messages

   Many of the forests’ rivers and streams are flowing higher than normal for this time of year.  Visitors are encouraged to use caution near river and stream edges and use life jackets when boating or tubing.  

    Please keep these fire safety tips in mind:  build small and contained campfires; never leave fire unattended; make sure it is Dead Out before leaving; state law requires having a bucket and shovel handy when lighting a campfire; all types of equipment and vehicles are required to have spark arresters.  This includes; chainsaws, portable generators, cross-country vehicles, motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles and farm equipment.

   Possessing, discharging or using any kind of fireworks on public lands is strictly prohibited.  Please report violations to the nearest Sheriff’s office.

   Employees of the Nez Perce and Clearwater National Forests wish everyone a safe and enjoyable 4th of July weekend.

Don’t let fire ruin your Independence Day celebration

   The Clearwater National Forest and Idaho Department of Lands wish everyone a safe Fourth of July. Firefighters want to remind citizens that fireworks are prohibited on National Forest and State of Idaho Forest lands. Fireworks often start fires in the critical area between homes and timber. Please protect yourself and your neighbors by leaving aerial displays to professional, organized events, and report any uncontrolled fires.

    Remember, individuals responsible for starting wildland fires can be billed the cost of suppressing the fire. When the guilty party is not identified, the cost of firefighting often falls upon the Idaho taxpayer.