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Skinny Dipper Hot Springs won’t close for now, BLM Idaho says

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management received a request for a stay and an appeal this week to keep Skinny Dipper Hot Springs between Banks and Garden Valley open, said Tate Fischer, manager of the Bureau’s local field office.

Fischer said he hasn’t fully analyzed the appeal, which contains a proposal for long-term upkeep and management of the hot springs. Once he does, Fischer said, he’ll either support or oppose the appeal to the agency’s Interior Board of Land Appeals, which makes rulings on this type of dispute.

It’s hard to say how long the board’s decision will take, Fischer said. It could be months or years. Meanwhile, Fischer said, he won’t take steps to close, dismantle or otherwise reclaim the hot springs site.

The earliest a closure could realistically take place would be in 2016, he said.

Late last month, Fischer issued his decision to close the hot springs. His reasons included concerns about human health, safety and the degradation of nature around the hot springs. Besides trash, human waste and steep trails, Skinny Dipper features PVC pipe installed to direct hot and cold water into pools. The pools themselves are lined with cement.

A group of people headed by clean water advocate Growing Change filed the appeal of Fischer’s decision.

Since learning Skinny Dipper could be closed, thousands of people have banded together to keep the hot springs open. Many have offered to help monitor the site to keep it safe and clean. The “Save Skinny Dipper Hot Springs” Facebook page has more than 8,700 likes.

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