In an effort to support social distancing the Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt has directed the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management and National Park Service to suspend entrance fees at national wildlife refuges and parks until further notice.
Enjoying the outdoors has been recommended by Bernhardt and others as a way to promote social distancing without confinement. Others like the Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks, a group of current and former park employees and volunteers, fear it will promote the opposite and cause crowding.
In Franklin County, that includes the campgrounds at Willow Flat, Albert Moser and Emigration Summit, and Red Point Campground on the Bear River in the Oneida Narrows.
The Oxford Slough is also open.
Outdoor spaces remain open to the public where it is possible to adhere to public health guidance but many facilities such as visitor centers, cabins are closed. If the closure affects reservations that have already been made, they will be refunded.
For the safety of staff and visitors, some warming huts in the area have been closed indefinitely. The actions have been taken in order to promote social distancing and to comply with medical advice given by the CDC for cleaning and disinfecting.
Affected stations locally are:
• Cub River Guard Station – Montpelier Ranger District, Franklin County, Id.
• Egan Guard Station - Montpelier Ranger District, Bear Lake County, Id
• Eight Mile Guard Station - Montpelier Ranger District, Bear Lake County, Id
Per Gov. Brad Little's directions non-residents may also recreate in Idaho, Idahoans may recreate across the state.
"But those considering doing so should consider carefully before traveling outside of your home county. The order allows individuals to “engage in outdoor activity” which includes but is not limited to walking, hiking, bicycling, or running," states coronavirus.Idaho.gov. However, people recreating should follow these recommendations:
- You must follow the Social Distancing Guidelines
- Day trips near your home are strongly encouraged – such as hiking and biking. Minimize your travel distance from your home and spread out. If a trailhead is congested, consider finding another trail or going during off-peak hours.
- Check before you go. Many campgrounds and trails may be closed. If you are going hunting or fishing, make sure to check Idaho Department of Fish and Game’s Seasons and Rules.
- Bring all supplies you will need from home to avoid putting unnecessary strain on local grocery stores or convenient stores that serve the local population. Make sure you pack out all your trash and leave your space clean.
Contacting the local ranger station for current information before making plans is also highly recommended. Below are the phone numbers for Idaho Caribou-Targhee National Forest Service ranger districts.
• Ashton/Island Park Ranger District- 208-652-7442
• Dubois Ranger District - 208-374-5422
• Teton Basin Ranger District - 208-354-2312
• Palisades Ranger District - 208-523-1412
• Forest Supervisor's Office - 208-557-5900
• Westside Ranger District - 208-236-7500