BLACKFOOT – Dusty Whited, Bingham County Public Works director, met with the county commissioners Wednesday to discuss the plan leading to the impending closure to the mountain roads in the county.
Maintenance on those roads ended just days ago and ranchers have been advised to move cattle if they have not already done so.
Mountain roads east of Blackfoot that run up to the Blackfoot River and reservoir are some of those that will be closed as well as the ones that are connected with Wolverine Canyon. The closures coincide with the closures that Bonneville County will carry out for their entrances to the same mountainous areas from heading east on Sunnyside Road and entering through Bone.
Commissioner Jessica Lewis advised Whited to contact Bonneville County so that Bingham County can be on the same page as its northern counterpart. Traditionally, contrary to what Bingham County does, Bonneville does not post that the roads are closed and unknowing enter the hills and end up snowed in and stranded.
Whited spoke about this exact problem happening last year, and one of his employees found a family stranded who spent the night in their vehicle after sliding off the road and unable to reach help. Whited and the commissioners want to prevent these types of situations from happening as best they can, which is why Bingham County posts that the roads are closed, even if they appear to be clear.
Starting Dec. 1, assuming that a resolution to close the roads earlier has not been necessary, the roads will close to vehicle traffic and grooming of the roadways will begin for those who like to snowmobile through the area in the winter. According to Commissioner Whitney Manwaring, the roadways are groomed to provide a safe place for the snowmobiles to travel and are closed to prevent any vehicle versus snowmobile accidents.
Manwaring also made comments to remind people that just because the roads may appear clear and safe to reach a destination, the weather can change drastically in the mountains quickly, causing emergency situations quickly. He also wanted to make Whited aware that there are some ranchers still working on getting cattle out of the area.
Whited said he knew that already and one of his employees took a grader up and over the “W” in Wolverine Canyon. Whited said his employee stated that he did not feel comfortable going back down the “W” and decided to make the loop around and through Bone and suggested that people not travel down it unless it’s found to be necessary.
Following the discussion, the decision made was to wait until Whited’s next meeting with the commissioners to make a decision on closing the roads early or on Dec. 1, following his discussion with Bonneville County.