Sunday, December 26, 2010

Road Closure

Egin-Hamer area closes January 1st

Idaho Falls--For the 13th year, the Egin-Hamer Area Closure places nearly 500 square miles of land off-limits to human entry for the protection of wintering deer, elk, and moose herds. The closure begins on Jan. 1 and lasts through the end of March on lands south of the Egin-Hamer Road and until April 30.

What started out as an idea by local county commissioners to reopen a popular farm to market road 13 years ago, continues to be a success not just for humans, but also for wintering wildlife.

The lack of human disturbance created by the closure has allowed herds of deer, elk, and moose to spend more time down on the desert between St. Anthony and Dubois during crucial portions of the late winter and early spring.

Every year, joint enforcement by Fish and Game, BLM, and Fremont County law enforcement officials make dozens of contacts related to closure violations. Depending on the agency making the contact, penalties can range into the hundreds of dollars and result in a Class B misdemeanor on the violator's record.

Again, last May on the opening day after the closure, a joint task force of county, state and federal employees spread out across the area to make sure the public understood that even though the area was open, certain cross-country travel restrictions were still in place.

The arrangement for the closure was agreed upon when county commissioners approached the BLM with the idea of the area closure in return for the re-opening of the Egin-Hamer Road for winter travel. State agencies, such as Fish and Game and the Idaho Department of Lands, also have land involved in the closure and play an active role in management. Private landowners accessing their own private lands are exempt from the closure. The active St. Anthony Sand Dunes, from the Red Road to Thunder Mountain and adjacent to Egin Lakes access, are also exempt from the closure.

Occasionally powered parachutes, helicopters and small planes have been sighted flying low over the closure area. While the air space is not restricted, pilots of all types are cautioned to not harass the wintering, deer, elk and moose. If the machines are flying low enough to cause the wildlife to move away, they are flying too low. The public is also reminded that the closure includes all vegetated areas surrounding the designated Red Road "snow play" area north of Sand Hill Resort. The popular Civil Defense Caves are also included within the closure boundaries

Boundaries of the closure are posted, and free detailed maps are available from the BLM or Fish and Game in Idaho Falls. The Fremont and Jefferson county sheriffs' offices also have copies of the map available for the public. This year, maps are also being posted at local motor sports dealers and vehicle stickers outlets to help reach more people.

For more information, including free maps of the closure, contact the Fish and Game office at 208-525-7290 or the BLM Office at 208-523-1012, both in Idaho Falls.

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