Road Damage across the Bridger-Teton
by Bridger-Teton National Forest
June 10, 2017
JACKSON, WYOMING, June 8, 2017 – The U.S. Forest Service Bridger-Teton National Forest has been working to address many road failures due to the snowmelt and spring runoff brought on by recent warmer temperatures.
Several roads, trail and one campground have become impassable as a result of floods, landslides, or washouts. Failed roads that present a public safety concern are typically closed under an emergency closure order until proper maintenance and repair can be accomplished.
"Access is an important aspect of the Forest Service mission, and right now we are triaging what areas to address first," said Forest Supervisor Tricia O'Connor. "Typically during this time of year we are blading and grading roads, but due to the wet conditions and runoff, we instead rented a dump truck and excavator and we are in the process of repairing many slumps and slides impacting roads and infrastructure across the forest," she said.
Emergency repairs that may have been more quickly repaired in the past are now often delayed. Funding for replacement of damaged or deteriorating infrastructure is tenuous as the agency and funding partners prioritize accelerating demands with limited funding.
Closures may remain in place for several years for non-critical access. "The Bridger-Teton cannot afford to replace every bridge that fails nor every road that washes out," said O'Connor. For example, the Blind Bull closure, on the Greys River Ranger District, may be at least a year, but could be indefinite depending on availability of funding for reconstruction.
Reconstruction or bridge replacement may also contingent on required National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) planning, and public involvement. "This is a big season with many washouts here on the Forest and it is evident we will need to pursue additional funding after we get a complete assessment of all the damage," O'Connor said. "The Forest Engineer will keep us apprised of funding opportunities, cost, and timelines for the repairs and replacements as more information is obtained," she said.
Public and partner support for the restoration of these roads and access is going to be needed. "The Forest Service Intermountain Region Office prioritizes road repair projects and those with cooperator or with funding partners compete better", she said. Anyone who has road building experience who would like to assist in getting some of these landslides or blowouts repaired can contact Forest Engineer Mike Oltman at 307-739-5445. There are impassable roads in Lincoln, Teton and Sublette Counties all within the Bridger-Teton's jurisdiction. Questions and comments, including letters of support from those who would like to see these various access routes restored are welcome.
As of June 8, 2017 the following emergency closures are in place.
Hams Fork Road between Kelly Guard• Station and Big Springs Camp Ground - Closed- Washout
LaBarge Road near Fish Barrier -• Closed - Washout
Minnie Holden Creek at Fontenelle• Road - Closed - Washout
Big Piney District:
South Piney Creek -Closed- Washout•
Thompson Pass - Closed - Washout•
Greys River District
Blind Bull - Closed - Landslide•
Cottonwood Creek - Closed - Washout•
Ditch Creek- Closed -Washout•
Crystal Creek Campground - Closed -• Flooded
Little Granite Creek - Closed -• Washout
Blackrock Ranger District:
South Fork Spread Creek (Leidy Lake• Road)- Closed -Washout
Teepee Creek - Closed -Washout•
For more information, visit the Forest Website at http://www.fs.fed.us/r4/btnf. For additional information, contact the Bridger-Teton National Forest at (307) 739-5500.