The area has been closed to all public entry since the fire due to the concern of eroded trails, softened soil, burned roots, damaged bridges and infrastructure, and snag trees potentially falling at any time.
The two accidents, one involving a Forest Service worker, and the second a private citizen operating a vehicle near the OHV area, involved ATV’s that suddenly rolled off the trail and down steep slopes due to the soft and eroded trails. The private citizen required emergency responder assistance due to his injuries.
“I have been, and continue to be, concerned with the hazards that exist in this recreation area due to the fire damage,” said Stephaney Church, Mountain Home District Ranger. “These people were lucky they were not killed and until we can fully assess the damage, develop a restoration plan, and start work any public use of this area is dangerous and prohibited.”
Church added that high severity fires increase water runoff and burn vegetation such as brush and roots that hold the soil in place creating dangerous conditions.
Officials believe with the severity and size of the fires, repairing the area will take a lengthy time and urge people to abide by the closure and stay out of the area.
Violation of the closure is punishable by up to 6 months in jail and/or a $5000 dollar fine. Further information is available at the Mountain Home Ranger District at 587-7961.