In response to extreme fire danger and strained fire suppression resources in North Idaho, Idaho Fish and Game’s corporate partners have implemented fire-related closures or restrictions on private lands enrolled in the Large Tracts Access Program.
The North Idaho Timber Group will close all public roads and walk-in access on July 15, 2021 until further notice, and PotlatchDeltic currently has restrictions in place on its Large Tracts properties in Idaho, including restricting all motorized vehicle use on its property to open, ungated roads only, also until further notice.
“While this type of restriction is not necessary during most fire seasons, this year is extraordinary in terms of wildfire risk for Idaho and all neighboring western states,” Peter Stegner said in a statement on behalf of the North Idaho Timber Group. “This precautionary closure is in the best interests of the community and the environment, and we appreciate everyone’s cooperation with this request during these highly unusual times.”
According to the contracts between Fish and Game and Large Tracts Program participants, private land managers reserve the right to temporarily close specific lands for management purposes like active forestry operations, high fire danger, or other management needs. When access has to be restricted for a period of time, the lease payments to program participants are adjusted accordingly.
Will Large Tracts Program closures affect access for hunters in the fall?
The only Large Tracts Program closure imminent is for lands under the North Idaho Timber Group umbrella. Of course, that could change as the fire season continues, and hunters and anglers can stay abreast of current restrictions and closures on Large Tracts properties by visiting Fish and Game’s Fire Information webpage.
In regard to the North Idaho Timber Group announcement, it is impossible to say at this point in the middle of a volatile fire season when the closure may end. Hunters and anglers need to remember that these are private, working timberlands, and that managers need to consider not only their business assets, but also public safety when making a determination on closures and when they are lifted.
“The situation will be evaluated on an ongoing basis, but we anticipate the closure will last until wetting rains reduce the hazard later in the season,” Stegner said in the statement.
Fish and Game resources for fire information
While Fish and Game’s Fire Information webpage is not the official fire information resource for wildfires in Idaho, the agency’s communications staff provide it as a tool to help Fish and Game customers in decision making.
To assist in your hunting, angling and outdoor adventures in summer and fall, Idaho Fish and Game will be working with the Forest Service, BLM, IDL and other resource agencies and Wildfire Teams to keep you up to date on fire closures as they are announced.
A number of Fish and Game regions have recently announced various levels of fire restrictions on department-owned property, including Wildlife Management Areas. The restrictions commonly reflect those on neighboring public lands managed by other federal and state agencies. Regional Fish and Game staff have and will continue to post updates on fire restrictions for department-owned lands to the Fire Information Page.
Fish and Game staff are compiling the latest fire activity and closures from InciWeb and making them available as real-time maps and downloads on our website. As more information becomes available, this page will be updated.
Check out this “Hunters, anglers and other recreationist’s guide to wildfire season” for useful information on fire restrictions and other tips, rules and guidelines people should be aware of to help prevent human-caused wildfires during fire season.