SALMON, Idaho — The Wallace Lake Campground northwest of Salmon will be closed until the end of July, officials with the Salmon-Challis National Forest announced Thursday.
The purpose of the new closure order is "to protect public health and safety from the effects of fire-weakened trees and damaged infrastructure resulting from the Moose Fire," according to a news release.
The Moose Fire burned about 130,000 acres — more than 200 square miles — starting in mid-July 2022 and continuing to smolder into October of that year. When a dry cold front moved over the area on Sept. 7, 2022, producing 40-mph winds and extreme fire behavior, the fire burned over Wallace Lake Campground as it grew by 15,136 acres in just two days. Later that month, investigators determined that an unextinguished and unattended campfire was to blame for starting the Moose Fire.
When the fire burned over the Wallace Lake area, it damaged campground infrastructure, which forest officials said needs to be assessed and repaired before it is safe for visitors to use. They also mention the following public safety hazards:
Snags, which are dead or dying trees that are still standing. Damage may not be readily visible, but trees' root systems can become weakened and damaged after a fire, increasing the potential for the trees to fall, often without warning.
Weather: Rains loosen the rocks and soil; winds can topple fire-damaged trees.
Violating the closure order is punishable under federal law as a Class B misdemeanor, with a fine of up to $5,000 for individuals or $10,000 for organizations, up to six months imprisonment, or both.
The closure order is posted here. It went into effect Thursday, May 24, 2023, and will be in effect through July 31, 2023, unless the forest service rescinds it earlier.
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