BOISE, Idaho — A group of people and organizations are teaming up to address recreation overuse along Grimes Creek, creating sanitation issues and ecological damage.
Residents, Boise County and Volunteer Fire Departments and Emergency Managers are partnering with the Idaho City Ranger District to address the issue. The Grimes Creek area is popular as it is close to Boise and has lots of open space for camping.
"Grimes Creek has the heaviest recreation impact in all of Boise County. Unlawful and disruptive activities tax law enforcement and emergency resources, including wildfire response," said Scott Turner, Boise County Sheriff. "We need to address the destructive behavior and resource damage before it is too late."
A news release on the Boise National Forest website says every weekend, the seven-mile stretch next to Grimes Creek is packed with campers and off-road drivers. The release also says a lot of people are not recreating responsibly.
Sheriffs and deputies spend a lot of time in Grimes Creek, responding to "serious incidents."
"People are leaving campfires burning," said Bob Showalter, Boise County Emergency Manager. "We have homes in the area and do not want a wildfire starting because of someone's neglect."
Residents in the area say they are tired of the destructive behavior and want visitors to be considerate and lawful. The news release says negative visitor impacts include extensive littering, off-road vehicles like UTVs and ATVs creating illegal trails and going over the speed limit, damaging natural resources and increasing the potential for accidents.
"With the help of our partners, and the community, we are developing short- and long-term solutions," said Brant Petersen, Idaho City District Ranger. "We want to continue to provide a safe area that people can enjoy, improve the sanitation issues while restoring riparian areas along the Creek."
The first step in the short-term plan is to mandate a temporary emergency closure in damaged areas to address sanitation issues, remove trash and repair resource damage to the creek and riparian areas. The order is in effect until September 1, 2021.
The areas closed are 300 feet on either side of the centerlines of National Forest Service Roads #364 (Grimes Creek Road) and #261 (Clear Creek Road). Violation of the order is punishable by a fine of not more than $5,000 for an individual or $10,000 for an organization and/or imprisonment of not more than six months.
"We want to provide recreation opportunities that are safe and enjoyable for everyone and reduces the negative impacts to local residents," said Petersen.
If you want to help, officials say to dispose of all garbage by taking it out of recreation areas. Leaving trash bags at area toilets or outside of trash cans endangers wildlife and fellow recreationists. For more information about recreating responsibly, check out the Seven Principles of Leave No Trace.