BLM sets public meetings on future of Idaho's Skinny Dipper Hot Springs

STATESMAN STAFFJuly 11, 2013 

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PETE ZIMOWSKY — Idaho Statesman file

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management is seeking public comments on the potential closure of popular Skinny Dipper Hot Springs, located four miles east of Banks, because of health and safety concerns.

Public meetings are planned from 6 to 8:30 p.m., July 17, at the Boise District BLM Office, 3948 S. Development Ave. in Boise, and 6 to 8:30 p.m. July 18 at the Community Hall, 329 Village Circle in Garden Valley.

Comments also can be submitted to the BLM by Aug. 15 at jmbeck@blm.gov.

The trail to the hot springs is located on the north side of the Banks to Lowman Highway between Banks and the Deer Creek launch site for the South Fork of the Payette River. It is near the pullout at Bronco Billy Rapids.

In a news release, the BLM said it is seeking public involvement as it begins addressing the unauthorized development of soaking pools and piping at the hot springs, including a proposal to remove the unauthorized development.

The actions are being initiated due to significant health and safety concerns that have been brought to the attention of the BLM by law enforcement units, Central District Health (Idaho Health District 4), the Idaho Transportation Department and concerned citizens, the federal agency said.

The hot springs draw a "large number of day and night visitors," the BLM said in the news release, "and is resulting in an environment where unsafe and often illegal activities occur."

The agency reinstituted a temporary nighttime closure at the hot springs on May 25 to stop the activities.

BLM rangers have issued 44 closure violations since that time.

The closure has reduced the nighttime use, but violations are still occurring.

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