Forest Fire Jeopardizes Some Idaho Yurts
The Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation started e-mailing reservation holders over the weekend that their fall, holiday and early winter trips could be in jeopardy because of this summer’s Trinity Ridge Fire nearby.
Parks and Rec officials said about 100 notices were sent, but since each reservation could involve up to six people — the number of people each yurt sleeps — the number affected is likely greater, the Idaho Statesman, Boise, reported.
No reservations are being taken for future dates because the backcountry yurt program has been temporarily suspended. Reservations typically are taken up to six months in advance.
The state is working with the U.S. Forest Service and the situation could be resolved as soon as two weeks, said Jennifer Okerlund, spokeswoman for Parks and Recreation.
“We’re working through it very quickly,” she said Monday (Sept. 10). “We want to get everybody’s reservations reinstated.”
Those who had reservations will be alerted when that occurs.
The Forest Service alerted the state agency that it lacks the permits after staff tried to access the yurts and trail system during the fire closure. National forest roads going east to the yurts off Idaho 21 are blocked.
Even though the yurts are owned and maintained by the state, they are located on Boise National Forest land administered by the Forest Service.
Parks and Recreation staff members were trying to cut brush around the yurts to protect them from fire, Okerlund said.
The state started operating the yurt system in 1996, and it has groomed ski trails in the area for decades.
The whole program between the state and federal agencies might have been started with “a handshake,” Okerlund said, explaining the lack of permits.
“This process unveiled that our agency was lacking the proper permits with the U.S. Forest Service, ensuring liability coverage for both our agency and yurt customers,” she said.
Paperwork between the two agencies also is necessary to allow the state to get into the yurt and trail system to do maintenance, which hasn’t been done since the Trinity Ridge Fire closure.
The six yurts, which are Mongolian-style domed tents, are located 20 to 30 miles northeast of Idaho City off Idaho 21. They are used by hikers, mountain bikers, horseback riders, Nordic skiers and snowshoers.
The yurts are about 90 minutes from Boise and are very popular during the winter months. Their popularity has grown in recent years during the other seasons. The yurts are regularly booked on weekends.
The cost is $90 a night on weekends and $75 on weekdays.
If an agreement isn’t reached and the state agency is not able to rent the yurts, it could lose around $18,000 over the next four months.