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BTNF responds to overcrowded camping areas with modified regulations

JACKSON, Wyo. — The Bridger-Teton National Forest has implemented a modified Special Order pertaining to all camping across the 3.4 million acre Forest, except for certain areas on the Blackrock and Jackson Ranger districts, where a 5-day stay limit is in effect during summer months. This regulation applies to campgrounds, dispersed camping, backcountry areas, and Wilderness areas.

Effective immediately, after camping for the maximum 14-days in a 30 day period, campers must move a distance equal to 5-air miles from that location for a total of 30-days before returning to that area. This is a change from the previous 16-day consecutive camping stay limit. The purpose of this change is to address the problem of people residing in the Forest and keeping individual groups from staying at a campsite for longer than 14-days.

All camping is now limited to 14-days in any 30 day period except where 5-consecutive day stay limits are in place. This order includes all Wilderness areas and Wilderness Study Areas managed by the Bridger-Teton. The 30-day period begins when the first-day camping equipment is set up with the intent of camping at that location.

Areas of the Forest where a 5-consecutive day camping limit is in effect from May 1-Labor Day annually include Toppings Lake Road, Spread Creek Road, Pacific Creek Road, and Colter Dump Road on the Blackrock Ranger District. Everything except developed campgrounds and the Gros Ventre Wilderness Area on the Jackson Ranger District remains at a 5-consecutive day camping limit as well.

“To provide a better recreational opportunities for people, and to provide more open campsites in the summer, we modified this Special Order addressing camping,” said Forest Supervisor Tricia O’Connor. “Some people spend maximum stay limits on the Forest, and then relocate to another area and stay for another maximum stay limit,” she continued. “The Forest has stay limits and prohibits residency because when people don’t move frequently enough, the land has little time to recover, heal, and regenerate. Residing and exceeding stay limits creates problems with sanitation, human waste, trash, and campfires during fire restrictions,” said O’Connor.

“National Forest land managers are responsible for conservation and multiple use of the public lands, and providing forest products. We are not charged with providing housing,” O’Connor said. “The bottom line is that we are not equipped to keep up with the demands and impacts of residency on the public’s land,” she said.

O’Connor reminded that the camping and recreation opportunities across the Forest are plentiful. “In general across the Forest we have between 5 and 14 day stay limits, depending on the proximity to towns, developed recreational areas or established facilities and sensitive areas. After that, regulations are that a person move 5-aerial miles to a different area if they wish to continue camping.  Leaving a clean camp free of trash, and completely extinguishing campfires are required for all campers on National Forests,” O’Connor stated.

The complete order can be found online.

RECOMMENDATIONS:

Because of the spike in use, visitors are struggling to find Forest locations to camp, often searching for hours for a place to park and set up. Popular areas in the Jackson and Blackrock Districts are filling by early to mid-morning.

The higher use is also resulting in an increase in violations and resource concerns, most notably building new fire rings, abandoned campfires, proper food storage in bear country, human waste, and off-route motorized travel.

The following information shows which campgrounds are filling quickly, and which are liking to have open areas.

These developed campgrounds are filling by mid-day:
1.       Atherton
2.       Crystal Creek
3.       Curtis
4.       Pacific Creek
5.       Sheffield
6.       Hatchet
7.       Turpin Meadows
8.       East Table
9.       Station Creek
10.     Hoback

The following designated dispersed camping areas are also filling by mid-day:
1.       Spread Creek/Toppings
2.       Shadow Mountain
3.       Curtis Canyon

The following campgrounds fill less quickly:
1.       Wolf Creek Campground
2.       Kozy Creek Campground

Campers may be more successful finding dispersed camping in the following locations:
1.       Fall Creek: North Fork Fall Creek, Coburn Meadows, Pritchard Pass
2.       Hatchet Road
3.       Flagstaff Road
4.       the State Lot on Togwotee Pass
5.       Upper Gros Ventre: Slate Creek and beyond

Campers may also want to consider locations south of Jackson, such as:
1.       Cliff Creek
2.       North and South Fisherman’s Creek
3.       Bondurant
4.       Greys River Road

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