April 9, 2020
RE: Backcountry Recreation
As we approach the Easter Weekend, the Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office anticipates increased activity in our backcountry and outdoor recreational areas and wish to send a few safety reminders to consider. This yearly springtime window of opportunity offers an overlap of winter and summer recreation for people to take advantage of, but it also comes at a time when conditions have certain added risks. Right now in the higher elevations snow conditions are prime for avalanche danger, spring runoff and increases in water flow on the Snake River will be happening soon, and some of the backcountry and forest service roads are still under winter closure conditions to non-tracked vehicles.
For those who plan to utilize winter recreation trails or snowmobile in the backcountry, we recommend checking conditions prior to your travel and take a moment to make sure you have the proper safety and emergency equipment. Higher elevations still get cold and experience unexpected weather changes that shouldn’t be underestimated just because it’s T-shirt weather at home. Always double check to make sure you have proper clothing and equipment in good working order that’s suitable for the worst case scenario.
In the lower elevations, the Snake River, Palisades and Ririe Reservoir, are already seeing spring water flow conditions with extra floating debris and hidden obstacles just under the surface. In an emergency where people are in the water, the cold this time of year brings deadly hypothermic conditions in seconds creating a very short amount of time for one to self-rescue, even while wearing a life jacket. Again, take the time to check the conditions before you travel and double check that you have proper clothing and safety equipment that is in good working order.
Many of our backcountry and forest service roads are still closed to non-tracked and most motorized vehicle traffic. We anticipate a portion of those closures to reopen soon, but until then make sure to avoid those areas and respect the private property adjacent to them. Deputies have encountered violators in the closed areas that cause damage to the road surfaces requiring repair by Road and Bridge crews who are already working to repair and maintain paved roads in populated areas from winter weather and frost damage. This causes further delay in getting those areas open and could result in a criminal charge for traveling beyond the road closed signs.
The Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office has a well trained and dedicated group of volunteer Search and Rescue Personnel that compliment our full-time Deputies when emergencies happen. These individuals work as a team with other area Law Enforcement, Fire, EMS, and First Responders often at a moment’s notice and often in the worst conditions. In our experience, when people plan ahead for safety and emergencies it greatly increases the ability for a safe rescue and saves lives. The Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office recognizes the seriousness of the spread of COVID-19 and how important preventative measures and social distancing is at this moment. Our Deputies have made adjustments to continue as much as possible to provide the best Public Safety service for our residents and visitors. Along with this we encourage everyone to do their part in being preventative by recognizing the risks of your own actions or activities and how they apply to those that may be at a higher risk level around you or coming to rescue you in an emergency.