Visitors reminded to stay safe in the forest this spring

Sheridan, Wyo. (May 19, 2014) – After the long, cold winter, it’s natural to want to get outside and enjoy nature. And whether it’s for the wildlife, wildflowers, hiking, fishing, or just taking in the view, it’s important to keep some safety tips in mind as you head outdoors to revel in the warm, spring weather.

     With warmer temperatures and rain showers added to the already high snowpack in the Bighorns, even small streams, creeks, dry streambeds, and low-lying ground that appear harmless can flood with little notice. Be aware of flood hazards no matter where you travel.

     Travel routes and crossings can become impassable due to wet and muddy conditions. “The small stream you crossed this morning may not be crossable in a few hours or days when you drive out,” said forest supervisor Bill Bass.

     Motorized travel on the Bighorn National Forest is allowed only on signed, designated routes, and off-road vehicles must have a valid State of Wyoming registration sticker. It’s illegal to travel off a designated route to bypass an obstacle such as a fallen tree, snow drift, or mud hole. Springtime is when roads and trails are most vulnerable because wet conditions make it easier to damage soils. “If the road is too soft to support your vehicle, turn around,” said Bass.

     Whether you’re camping or hiking, in the front country or in the back country, be prepared to share the forest with wildlife. Bears have emerged from winter dens and are looking for food, and mothers with young are especially protective. For your safety and to protect wildlife, photograph and watch wildlife from a distance, keep food contained and dogs under control.

     National forest travel routes and recreation areas will open as soon as is safely possible, depending on snowmelt and weather conditions. The Shell Falls Interpretive Site is scheduled to open for Memorial Day weekend on Saturday, May 24, 2014. Some campgrounds may be open for the holiday weekend, though the heavy snowpack may delay the start of the season until June. Watch the Bighorn’s website for campground opening dates  www.fs.usda.gov/bighorn/.   

     For more information about forest conditions and whether your favorite road, trail, or campground is open, please contact the local ranger district office in Buffalo, Lovell, or Sheridan.

     Current hydrologic outlook, snowpack, and flood risk information is available from the National Weather Service website at www.crh.noaa.gov/
                 
Filed Under :
Location : BuffaloSheridanWyoming
People : Bill Bass
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