BOISE, Idaho — As Idaho begins to reopen and the weather warms up, the Boise National Forest is working to open some lower elevation campgrounds for the Memorial Day weekend. There may be some exceptions based on recreation concessionaire schedules, snow levels or locations adjacent to active timber sales.
Public safety is a priority and as in normal years, crews must assess each campground before its opening. Work required depends on previous winter conditions as lot of damage can occur over the course of a winter.
There can be down trees or standing hazard trees that have to be removed, and broken waterlines or picnic tables may need to be repaired before opening. Developed campgrounds in the forest are currently closed.
“We are asking visitors to avoid our developed campgrounds so crews can work as quickly as possible to open sites for the Memorial Day weekend,” said Danelle Highfill, Boise National Forest recreation manager. “It is an issue of public safety. Crews routinely need to drop hazard trees that have been damaged because of snow load, and they can’t do that if the campsites are occupied.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has delayed preparation for the normal campground openings that take place in mid- to late-May. A few low elevation campgrounds are normally open in early May with full restroom and water services. Most campgrounds are typically open around Memorial Day.
Due to COVID-19 and increased use, additional cleaning and repair work may be required. As it is, some developed campgrounds will be opened with limited services if water testing and repairs are delayed or extensive.
The majority of the forest is open for public access, including trails and trailheads. Forest officials want to remind you to avoid congregating at trailheads and parking areas and avoid gathering in groups over 10. Forest visitors should recreate consistent with the State’s Recreate Responsibly Idaho campaign.
“Dispersed camping is open throughout the forest except for two locations in the Silver Creek area,” Highfill said. “We want to encourage visitors to pack out their trash, practice “Leave no Trace” land use principles, and social distance when recreating on the forest. Most of all, we are asking the public to be patient for a couple more weeks.”