BOISE, Idaho — On any given weekend during the summer, the seven-mile strip of land next to Grimes Creek is packed with campers and off-road enthusiasts.
The heavily used area is popular because of its close proximity to Boise and it has numerous open spaces that make it optimal for dispersed camping.
But local residents and government officials say the heavy use at Grimes Creek is creating sanitation issues and ecological damage.
Boise County residents, volunteer fire departments and emergency managers are partnering with the Idaho City Ranger District to address the problems created by the heavy recreation use.
Boise County sheriff's deputies spend a lot of time in Grimes Creek responding to serious incidents.
"Grimes Creek has the heaviest recreation impact in all of Boise County," said Boise County Sheriff Scott Turner. "Unlawful and disruptive activities tax law enforcement and emergency resources, including wildfire response. We need to address the destructive behavior and resource damage before it is too late."
"People are leaving campfires burning," said Bob Showalter, Boise County Emergency Manager. "We have homes in the area and do not want a wildfire starting because of someone's neglect."
Residents say they are fed up with the destructive behavior and want visitors to be more considerate and lawful with their use. Some of the negative impacts include extensive littering, off road vehicles creating illegal trails and exceeding posted speed limits; damaging natural resources and increasing potential for accidents.
"With the help of our partners, and the community, we are developing short- and long-term solutions," said Brant Petersen, Idaho City District Ranger. "We want to continue to provide a safe area that people can enjoy improve the sanitation issues while restoring riparian areas along the creek."
The first step in the short-term plan is to mandate a temporary emergency closure in damaged areas to address sanitation issues, remove litter, and repair resource damage to the creek and riparian areas.
"We want to provide recreation opportunities that are safe and enjoyable for everyone and reduces the negative impacts to local residents," said Petersen.
Visitors are encouraged to pack out any garbage from the recreation areas. Leaving bags of trash at area toilets or outside of trash cans endangers wildlife and other recreationists.