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Sawtooth National Forest Prepares For Campers — With Some Changes

Across a grassy field is a wide shot of the snow-capped Sawtooth Mountains.
Rachel Cohen
Boise State Public Radio

All campgrounds in the Sawtooth National Forest will be open on Memorial Day weekend, but outdoor enthusiasts should be aware of some rule changes this year.

Campers in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area can only stay in a spot for 10 days within a 30-day period. After that, they have to move to a site outside of a 30-mile radius. The 10-day limit is down from 16 days at certain spots last year.

Forest Service Public Affairs Officer Julie Thomas said that change is because of how busy things got last summer during the pandemic.

“If folks park their camper and try to leave it all summer, that just really makes it hard for everyone else to enjoy it," Thomas said.

Also, with more visitors last summer, rangers found an uptick of abandoned campfires. Just last week, there were two fires in the recreation area. Thomas wants to remind people parts of south central Idaho are in a severe-to-extreme drought.

“It is really dry," she said. "The fire up by Stanley Lake grew to 46 acres.”

The causes of the fires are still under investigation.

Also new this year in the Sawtooth National Forest is that the Forest Service is requiring campers to store food in locked cars or bear-resistant containers. Before, it strongly recommended that preventive measure, but now it's an order that will be enforced and could result in a fine of up to $5,000.

Thomas said campers should make sure to bring trash bags and water. And hitting mud on the road means it’s too early in the season to travel it, she said, so she urged people to turn around in that case to protect the road.

Find reporter Rachel Cohen on Twitter @racheld_cohen

Copyright 2021 Boise State Public Radio

I cover environmental issues, outdoor recreation and local news for Boise State Public Radio. Beyond reporting, I contribute to the station’s digital strategy efforts and enjoy thinking about how our work can best reach and serve our audience. The best part of my job is that I get to learn something new almost every day.

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