HELENA, Mont. — Barriers are being put up around areas of the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest to keep out vehicles, forcing campers to walk to campsites that are near waterways.

The goal is to reduce damage caused to wetland areas and river banks.

The barriers are being set up in the Little Blackfoot River drainage in an effort to reduce the impacts from motorized travel in wetland areas and near waterways.

It’s part of the Divide Travel Plan approved in March, and will affect about 30 sites. Ten sites will be closed to motorized use and 19 sites will be blocked off using boulders, logs and revegetation. Another 27 campsites are not affected.

“In order to keep the dispersed sites available to the public and remain in compliance with federal and state laws and regulations, it is necessary for us to address the resource issues associated with them considering their proximity to the river,” Helena District Ranger Heather DeGeest said in a statement.

“This is a mitigation measure to keep vehicles from traveling to and damaging the river bank and wet areas adjacent to it,” DeGeest said.

The Divide Travel Plan has taken years, and motorized advocates fought it. Some wildlife advocates said it didn’t go far enough, the Helena Independent Record reported (http://tinyurl.com/gntkxjx).

Officials say they are trying to balance motorized and non-motorized access.


Information from: Independent Record, http://www.helenair.com