Friday, October 17, 2014

Nez Perce-Clearwater Forests welcome hunters

Hunters have some good informational tools to choose from this hunting season to assist them in the Nez-Perce Clearwater National Forests. Recently, the 2014 Clearwater Forest Motor Vehicle Use Map (MVUM), Clearwater Motorized Travel Guide were released, and MVUMS and Nez Perce and Clearwater Visitor Maps can be downloaded on the Avenza app.

Adding to those three tools is the Mobility Impaired Hunter Access Program offered at some forest offices. This year, the Red River, Lochsa and North Fork Ranger Districts are participating in this program where hunters holding an Idaho Handicapped Persons Vehicle Hunting Permit and valid hunting license will be granted a permit to access certain closed roads.

One non-hunting assistant may accompany the mobility-impaired hunter behind the closed gate. The permits will be made available on a first-come, first-served basis by reservation only.

The Red River Ranger District is once again participating in the program and offers Trapper Creek Road #9550 in Hunting Unit 20 and Center Star Road #1110 and Moose Butte Road #1150 in Hunting Unit 15. For more information, or to reserve a road, please contact their office in Elk City at (208) 842-2245.

The Lochsa Ranger District offers three roads in Hunting Unit 12: Canyon Creek Road #445, Deadman Creek Road #5541, and Middle Deadman Creek Road #5543. For more information, or to reserve a road, please contact their office in Kooskia at (208) 926-4274.

The North Fork Ranger District has opened Lost Bugle Road #5222 to handicapped hunters. Persons taking part in the Mobility Impaired Hunter Access Program will be allowed to drive pickups, passenger cars and ATVs on Road #5222; the road is gated and usually off-limits to motorized vehicles. Hunting parties will be allowed to camp within ¼ mile of the gate. Camping beyond this point is prohibited. For more information, please contact their office in Orofino at (208) 476-8267.

There are approximately 2,961 miles of motorized roads, open yearlong or seasonally on the Clearwater National Forest. There are 1,400 miles of maintained trails in the Clearwater NF system. All of the trails are open to hikers and most are open to stock. Many are available for mountain bikes. Non-motorized trails are not shown on the MVUM. Some trails are available for motorcycles and small vehicles 50 inches or less, these trails are shown on the MVUM.

Make sure you learn which specific areas or hunting units are open to OHVs during big game hunting seasons. The Clearwater MVUM displays all National Forest System roads and trails allowing public motor vehicle use. Motorized use includes but is not limited to motorcycles, ATVs, and four-wheel drive vehicles.

OHVs wider than 50” are only allowed on roads open to motorized use during hunting season.

Staying on designated routes provides positive benefits to wildlife, water and other natural resources and social values.

Most scenic overlooks, historical sites and popular travel routes are still accessible to motorized users.

Motorized users may also access dispersed campsites (within 300 feet of most roads and 100 feet of most motorized trails, indicated on the MVUM).

You can use your trail machine to scout for game and access your hunting camp, but it's illegal to shoot big game animals from your OHV. (Hunters with a disabled permit are exempt from this rule.)

Park your OHV if you need to leave a trail or road to retrieve a big game animal. Big game retrieval with a motor vehicle is allowed only where the big game retrieval symbol is displayed on the MVUM. The MVUM will indicate the distance from the route that motor vehicles may be driven for the purpose of big game retrieval.

Stop by your local Forest Service office to get your MVUMS, Travel Guides and Forest Visitor Maps before your hunt or fall trip into the woods. Or visit the forest website at

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