With summer in full swing, the desire to get outside and enjoy all Idaho has to offer grows strong. With a renewed recreation focus and a growing population, publicly accessible lands in North Idaho are seeing a lot of use. These publicly available lands fall under many different ownerships, ranging from federal public lands to privately owned lands that allow public access. In fact, over 70% of land in the Panhandle Region is publicly accessible. In short, there are a lot of places to go and things to see.
Idaho Fish and Game owns or manages only a small portion of these publicly accessible lands, and they are generally located in the valley bottoms and at key points to access various water bodies. Fish and Game properties are managed primarily for wildlife habitat and sportsman access for hunting, fishing and trapping. Other uses, such as hiking, biking, kayaking and horse riding are also allowed.
With growing use of Fish and Game lands, conflicts with the management goals and adjoining neighbors are increasing. Recreationists can take some simple steps to help reduce conflicts. The parking areas only have so much room, so when the parking lots are full, consider exploring new areas instead of parking outside of designated areas.
This simple step would reduce overcrowding of the property, prevent conflicts with neighboring property owners and eliminate safety issues on adjacent roadways. If bringing a horse trailer, remember you’re taking up several vehicle parking spots, so consider going at less crowded times.
Dogs are allowed on all Fish and Game properties, but please keep them under control to prevent them from chasing wildlife, disrupting nesting birds, affecting other visitors or trespassing on neighboring properties. Many of our water access parcels have boat launches and provide parking for vehicles with trailers. Please don’t block boat ramps or park vehicles without trailers in spaces designed for trailers. These actions would go a long way toward reducing conflicts, especially at the busier sites.
Hot and dry summer conditions have created extreme fire danger throughout the region. Stage 2 fire restrictions are currently in place and apply to all Fish and Game properties. Fire-related closures and restrictions are also in place for Large Tracts Program lands. Please stay abreast of fire restrictions by visiting Fish and Game’s Fire Information webpage.
As the seasons change, many of the Fish and Game parcels will see hunters and trappers going afield looking for their quarry. When out in late-summer and through the fall, it’s a good idea to wear hunter orange or hot pink clothing to make sure you’re clearly visible. It’s also a good time of the year to keep your dog from running far from the trail to prevent any inadvertent encounters with traps or hunters. Most sportsmen focus their efforts during the morning and evening, so going for a hike in the middle of the day could lessen impacts to hunters using the area.
No matter whose land you are recreating on, it is your responsibility to know the rules and be an ethical visitor. Being respectful of the property owners’ rules and the surrounding residences helps to reduce conflicts and enhance the recreational experience for everyone.
Don’t hesitate to contact your local Fish and Game regional office with questions or to get advice on planning your next trip.
Enjoy Idaho’s great outdoors!