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Thursday, October 22, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Sports >  Outdoors

Slides, washouts common in saturated forests

A March rockslide blocking the Selway River Road in Idaho is sized up by Forest Service staff. (U.S. FOREST SERVICE / COURTESY OF U.S. FOREST SERVICE)
A March rockslide blocking the Selway River Road in Idaho is sized up by Forest Service staff. (U.S. FOREST SERVICE / COURTESY OF U.S. FOREST SERVICE)

Hikers, anglers, mushroomers, hunters and other visitors to public lands this spring should be extra wary of the possibility of roads blocked by landslides, downfall, rockfall, washouts and flooding.

The BLM and national forests in Idaho and Washington are posting advisories to road restrictions and closures on a weekly basis as the snow recedes and reports come in from early season visitors.

After a record wet winter, the landscape is squishy and moving.

Before heading out into public lands from the sagebrush country to the mountains, officials recommend:

—Calling land managers in advance to check on any reports of road closures or restrictions near your destination.

—Letting somebody responsible know where you’re going and when you expect to return. Unexpected landslides are a higher probability this time of year and they could block your vehicle from exiting a road system and leave you stranded.

“The saturated ground is causing slides and falling trees in many places, but please be especially cautious in areas recently impacted by fire,” said Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest Supervisor Cheryl Probert.

“Damaged soil and dead or dying trees can be especially susceptible to the current wet conditions.”

John Foster, a Ferry County firefighter who’s worked with public agencies for years, points out, “This time of year BLM, National Forests, and State Lands have only the year round skeleton staff. Seasonals have not been hired yet, due to a lack of field resources the land managers themselves may not know of road damage and landslides, yet.”

Contact the writer:

(509) 459-5508

richl@spokesman.com

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