Bighorn National Forest officials say developed sites may open early


May 14, 2020

LOVELL (WNE) — Despite the COVID-19 outbreak, the summer recreation season on the Bighorn National Forest is expected to begin like it normally does, with the phased opening of developed areas starting in a couple weeks and the current region-wide restriction on campfires expiring May 31.

Members of a forest steering committee acknowledged during a teleconference Thursday that they have been fielding a high volume of calls from people voicing questions and concerns about losing access to the forest.

Sara Evans-Kirol, a public affairs officer for the Bighorn National Forest, said some have been thrown off by the new rules that are going into effect for the Wyoming State Parks system, mistakenly believing they will all apply to forestlands.

The Wyoming State Parks has cancelled all 2020 reservations for out-of-state visitors in an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19 and ensure adherence to social distancing guidelines.

“We don’t have restrictions on out-of-state visitors,” said Evans-Kirol of the BNF.

During Thursday’s teleconference, Erin Phelps, the forest’s acting supervisor, noted that there are still two region-wide closure orders that impact the Bighorn. One is tied to developed recreation, the other to campfire restrictions.

Phelps said there is currently no restriction on dispersed recreation in the Bighorn National Forest.

The forest’s developed recreational areas such as its established campgrounds are currently closed by regional order, Phelps said. That order expires May 31.

The other restriction deals with campfires. Through May 31, they are not permitted on the forest. After that, they would be left to each forest to decide, based upon ground conditions.


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