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Sports & Recreation

Motorized Use Closure Dates Set To Protect Wood River Valley Big Game

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Chris Nelson
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Annual winter closures for snowmobiles are going into effect in the Wood River Valley Dec. 1.

Friday, the BLM will begin to close several recreation areas in the Wood River Valley to motorized vehicles. The goal is to reduce the stress put on big game animals.

The winter closures have been in place in the Wood River Valley since 1980. The BLM’s John Kurtz says the closures are necessary to protect deer and elk that already struggle to find food and shelter once the snow piles up.

“They’re living off their fat reserves to get them through to the spring," Kurtz says. "So if we minimize the impacts or the energy reserves that they have to use up just to survive, that increases the survival rate throughout the winter.”

Kurtz says limiting where snowmobiles go minimizes the stress put on the animals, while keeping other spots open during the winter.

“We target those areas where there aren’t wildlife, or very few, so people can go out and have fun. And then that helps us protect the areas that we need to.”

Among the closures are the Elk Mountain area, portions of Picabo Hills, and the south slopes above East Fork. The areas will reopen to motorized recreation in May.

Find reporter Frankie Barnhill on Twitter @FABarnhill

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