SALMON, Idaho — An off-duty employee from the United States Forest Service found a cache of weathered explosives earlier this spring on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) administered lands. The employee found the explosives while hiking near Seven-mile Canyon outside of Salmon in Lemhi County.
The explosives were reported to the BLM and Field Staff Ranger Amanda Schramm responded with the Special Agent for Eastern Idaho. A UTV with snow tracks had to be used to travel to the remote site because of weather. The reported materials were visually confirmed to be an ancient case of explosives.
The case had around 40 sticks of 65-year-old dynamite, which was partially exposed in the wooden crate. The case and its contents was hidden in a rock outcropping until the wood fell apart and exposed the explosives. Despite the age and exposure, the dynamite appeared to still be a viable explosive.
Salmon Field Office Geology Staff believe the dynamite was likely left behind following road construction associated with past mining operations.
“With the strong mining history in Lemhi County it is not unusual to discover this sort of thing. Our number one priority is the safety of public land users,” said Salmon Field Office Manager Linda Price.
Ranger Schramm coordinated with the Salmon Field Office, the Forest Service and the Lemhi County Sheriff's Office to dispose of the dynamite. The response was coordinated with management from the BLM and United States Forest Service.
Based on the weather and remote location, a USFS-certified blaster was used to destroy the dynamite. To avoid a potential hazard to public land users, a joint BLM and Forest Service team supported the Salmon-Challis National Forest's Certified Blaster and Explosives Specialist to safely destroy the dynamite. The team created a perimeter around the work area and informed people in the surrounding area to keep away.
The Forest Service Specialist strategically placed a minimal, but sufficient amount of explosive material near the dynamite and detonated the charge.
The dynamite was in a steep, cliffy area and was only accessible by climbing a slope. The dynamite did not have any potential hazard to the nearest dwelling, located a half-mile away. The location of the dynamite also prevented anyone from previously finding or reporting it.
"If you are recreating on public lands and see what you believe to be any type of historic material resembling explosives or hazardous material, please take your observation seriously; do not approach the area more closely once observed," said Agent Schramm. "Please report the location of your observation to law enforcement so that we can work with specialists to plan for safe disposal.”