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Posted on: January 7, 2020

Back Country Travel Advisory

Kootenai County, ID - Over the past several days the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office has received numerous reports and responded to a number of vehicles that were either stuck or slid off the roads in the backcountry areas of the county. This is a result of ice covered roads and increasing snow accumulations.  Travelers are cautioned that since the weather has turned cooler and large amounts of moisture is forecasted to come into the region, the snow will continue to pile up in the backcountry. This, in combination with the current icy road conditions makes travel into these areas very hazardous.

As of today’s date, the US Forest Service and Kootenai County Snowmobile Groomer Program have installed barricades at certain backcountry trailheads in Kootenai County restricting travel in those areas to Snowmobile and tracked UTV/ATV only. Travel by all motorized wheeled vehicles in these areas is prohibited, including ATV and UTVs. A violation of these travel restrictions is not only unsafe, but may also result in the operator being cited or even arrested.  It should be noted that for a Tracked ATV/OHV to be eligible to use groomed trails in Kootenai County, it shall meet the following definition as stated in Kootenai County Ordinance 6-4-3:

OFF HIGHWAY VEHICLE (OHV): An all-terrain vehicle (ATV), motorcycle, or utility type vehicle (UTV), under two thousand (2,000) pounds' unladen gross weight, with a maximum width less than seventy four inches (74"), which is designed for travel on snow or ice or over natural terrain and is steered by tracks, skis or runners.

This definition of maximum width, includes the total width of the tracks installed on the UTV. 

Although travel into the backcountry is not restricted in other areas at this time, the Sheriff’s Office is urging the use of common sense and backcountry preparedness if you are to attempt travel into these areas. The Sheriff’s Office is asking travelers to avoid traveling on snow and ice covered roads as the road conditions will continue to become more and more hazardous and snow accumulations will rise as moisture comes into the region.

If you do attempt to venture into the backcountry, some tips to avoid becoming stranded are to carry tire chains, shovels, communication devices, such as radios, cell phones and a GPS. If you do get stranded, stay with your vehicle, carry basic survival items such as extra food and water, extra clothing, including snow boots and blankets. Most importantly, tell someone where you are going and when you will return.

Ben Wolfinger, Sheriff

By: Sgt. W.H. Klinkefus

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