Fires Close Some Backcountry Trails, Roads
Fires burning in southwestern Idaho's backcountry will affect access to more than 800,000 acres east of Idaho Highway 21, including hunter access in one popular hunt unit.
Hunter with tags for the mule deer controlled hunt No. 1025 in Unit 39 may request an exchange for a general season tag and get rain check for next year, before the August 15 opening. The closure affects less than half the hunt area, but it appears unlikely that restrictions will be lifted before the end of the hunt.
As of Monday, August 12, the Elk Fire Complex north of Mountain Home covered more than 90,000 acres, mostly on the Boise National Forest west of Anderson Ranch Dam. The U.S. Forest Service has closed many of the roads into the area as part of an almost 800,000-acre closure east of Idaho Highway 21, covering an area similar to last year's Trinity Ridge Fire Area Closure.
Most of the fire is within the southeastern portion of Unit 39, and the closure affects some access to the controlled hunt that opens in the unit on Thursday, August 15.
For a map and updates on the Elk Complex go to: http://www.inciweb.org/state/13/.
Normally Idaho Fish and Game does not recommend closing hunts or altering season dates in response to fire restrictions. Most fires are not large enough to affect an entire hunt unit.
Hunters affected by a fire closure can adjust their schedule to hunt later in the season or exchange general tags to hunt in a different area. But tags must be exchanged before the season begins.
Hunters with controlled hunt tags may exchange them for general season tags before the controlled hunt begins. But controlled hunt fees would not be refunded.
Fish and Game will consider requests for rain checks or refunds in the event that access to a hunting unit is blocked by fire.
Rain checks would be valid in 2014 and offered only for the same species and hunt area as the hunter held in 2013.
Hunters requesting a rain check must submit their tags and permits with a letter describing the conditions of their request. Written requests should be sent to the license section at Fish and Game, P.O. Box 25, Boise ID 83707.
Hunters and anglers, and anyone else heading into the backcountry, are advised to check with Forest Service ranger district offices or county sheriffs' offices before heading out.
For more information about rain checks contact licensing at Fish and Game 208-334-2592. For information about the closures contact the Fish and Game Nampa office at 208-465-8465.
For additional fire information check the Hunt Planner Map Center at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/ifwis/huntplanner/mapcenter/, and at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/ifwis/maps/realtime/fire/.