Outdoors Blog

Popular Idaho beach will be alcohol-free for holiday weekend; fireworks rules in the forests

North Beach at Payette Lake in McCall is the perfect place to launch for a canoe or kayak trip across the lake.
North Beach at Payette Lake in McCall is the perfect place to launch for a canoe or kayak trip across the lake. Idaho Statesman file

Idaho State Parks and Recreation has banned alcohol in the North Beach section of Ponderosa State Park for the July 4 weekend because of safety concerns on the popular Payette Lake beach.

The alcohol ban is in place from Friday through next Tuesday (July 5). It doesn’t apply to the Northwest Passage Campground.

“The decision to ban alcohol on the popular McCall beach was made in collaboration with the community of McCall, law enforcement and land managers to address public health and safety concerns,” Richard Taplin, Ponderosa State Park manager, said in a press release. “We have a responsibility to ensure the health and safety of visitors to Ponderosa State Park. During the Fourth of July holiday, crowds at the North Beach Unit of Ponderosa State Park have exceeded the reasonable capacity of the unit and have become unmanageable, with numerous instances of underage drinking, resulting in threats to the health and safety of park visitors and recreationists on Payette Lake.”

Additional park rangers will be on site to assist with parking, education and enforcement. The beach will be capped at 500 people and the boat ramp at 250 people.

Parking will be permitted only in designated parking areas, and violators can be cited and towed. The Eastside Beach parking lot at North Beach has been redesigned to accommodate more vehicles.

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Fireworks banned on National Forests lands

From Idaho Fish and Game:

The Boise National Forest is reminding visitors and campers that the use of all fireworks and other pyrotechnic devices is prohibited on National Forests lands regardless of weather conditions or holidays. The forest is expecting large numbers of visitors to recreation areas over the Fourth of July weekend and this increased activity could lead to human caused fires.

With the recent Banks Fire and other smaller starts, the potential for wildfires is escalating and conditions are high. Fire officials ask visitors to be especially careful when towing trailers or boats.

“If you plan to tow a boat or RV, please check your safety chains before heading to the forest or any major highway corridor,” said Tony DeMasters, a member of the Boise National Forest fire staff. “The chains sometimes hang too low and have the potential to spark a wildfire if they drag on the ground while towing.”

When building campfires, look for a place at least 15 feet from trees, shrubs, tents or other flammable objects; be aware of low hanging branches. Don’t leave campfires unattended and make sure they are dead out when you leave.

Internal or external combustion engines, like those found on all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) and motorcycles, without a spark-arresting device properly installed and maintained are strictly prohibited on National Forest lands, along with the use of explosives and exploding targets. These devises are designed to explode when shot with a rifle. The resulting explosions have been known to cause wildfires.

Campgrounds are expected to fill up rapidly and reservations are recommended. Reservations can be made at: www.recreation.gov. Motor Vehicle Use maps (MVUM) are available at Ranger District offices, the Boise Interagency Visitor Center or on the Boise National Forest webpage. The maps show designated routes for motorized recreation users.

While the Banks Fire is 100 percent contained, visitor’s traveling along Forest Highway 17 (Banks / Lowman Road) and Idaho State Highway 55 may still see smoke as crews conduct burn out and mop-up operations.

For additional information, call the Interagency Visitor Center at 208-373-4007, located at 1387 South Vinnell Way in Boise or contact the Ranger District offices.

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The Tamarack Bike Park opened Saturday. The resort provided some video of the event, which you can watch above.

We previewed the opening with a trail feature here and this story on what area ski resorts have planned this summer.

Bogus Basin begins lift service Saturday.

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‘Capped’ elk tags go on sale July 10

From Idaho Fish and Game:

General season deer and elk tags go on sale Friday, but some resident elk tags in nine general seasons are sold in limited numbers known as “capped” elk zones. Tags for these nine zones will go on sale at 10 a.m. July 10 and will be sold online, through license and tag vendors, or by phone. Fish and Game offices will be closed on July 10.

The sale applies only to these elk tags, and here are the numbers of them available:

Bear River B-tags: 441

Diamond Creek A-tags: 1,146

Dworshak B-tags: 2,118

Elk City B-tags: 1,414

Lolo A-tags: 128

Lolo B-tags: 630

Middle Fork A-tags: 1,168

Middle Fork B-tags: 925

Salmon B-tags: 1,589

Sawtooth A-tags: 496

Sawtooth B-tags: 1,290

Selway A-tags: 179

Selway B-tags: 480

The capped tags are sold over-the-counter on a first-come, first-served basis at license vendors, online at https://idfg.idaho.gov, or with a credit card by calling (800) 554-8685. Demand for capped elk zone tags is high, and many are expected to sell fast. Fish and Game officials adjusted the sale of the tags this year from midnight to 10 a.m. to accommodate hunters who prefer to buy their tags at license vendors.

Fish and Game offices are closed on weekends, but remaining capped tags will be available there during regular office hours.

The remaining number of capped elk tags available are updated weekly online here.