The smell of fresh pine, the sound of singing birds and the gentle blowing wind are a few things that accompany hiking along dirt trails in Idaho.
With more people hitting the outdoors, the Bureau of Land Management created guidelines to ensure recreational safety.
“Outdoor recreation will be the only option for a while, so we need to keep following the rules to ‘flatten the curve’,” said Jennifer Jones, deputy state director in the Communication for the Bureau of Land Management Idaho State Office.
While wearing a face mask is optional on the trails, the BLM asked individuals to maintain six feet apart from one another and to be prepared for outdoor activities like hiking, biking and climbing to help with the pandemic.
“Being prepared will help the smaller towns who live by the trails,” Jones said. “Many places rely on volunteers and don’t have the proper infrastructure. They don’t have a lot of resources, so it’s important for people to be aware of that.”
Management recommended bringing water, hand sanitizer and avoiding new high-risk activities to sustain the community’s resources. They don’t enforce these rules, but emphasize educating hikers.
“We’re reaching out to people over media and are going to increase (our outreach) during the summer,” Jones said.
The BLM asked individuals to interact less with others on their recreational activities, not to leave trash behind and encourages people to explore new trails rather than using more popular destinations.
Scott Sweet, a sophomore studying geology, admits that some of the trails and hiking places have been more crowded than usual.
“We went to Warm Slough,” Sweet said. “It was very crowded but we tried to avoid the more crowded places.”
Scott suggested that others should look for new places to discover and explore.
“I just find a place on Google Maps, go to it and I’ve found some great places,” Sweet said.
For more information about outdoor safety during the pandemic, visit Idaho BLM’s website.