Yurt lovers are getting frustrated with the closure of the Idaho City yurts while the U.S. Forest Service and state of Idaho haggle over liability insurance.
A coalition of prominent Treasure Valley outdoor-recreation professionals, business owners and other community leaders released an open letter to officials with the Boise National Forest, Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation and Idaho Attorney General's office urging a speedy resolution to issues that have indefinitely closed the six popular state park yurts amid the Idaho City Park and Ski Areas.
The letter calls for state and federal officials to reopen the yurts by New Year's holiday weekend. Extending the closure into 2013 would be "a great disservice to the public that has long cherished and financially supported these trail and yurt systems," the letter said.
The 21 signers of the letter noted that the obstacle to reopening the yurts, located along trails off Idaho 21 northeast of Idaho City, appears to be a dispute between state and federal government agencies over how much liability insurance is necessary and whether a special-use permit is necessary for Idaho Parks and Recreation to operate the yurt system.
About 2,500 people use the yurts annually — mostly in winter — and the user fees generate $80,000 in annual revenue that’s critical to maintaining the state Parks and Recreation’s popular Park and Ski cross-country ski trails in the Boise National Forest.
The state had to cancel yurt reservations last fall after the Boise National Forest discovered that no special-use permit existed for the yurt operations, losing $26,155 in revenue. Yurt revenues are critical for grooming the 30-plus miles of cross-country ski and snowshoe trails in the area.
In September, the state Parks and Recreation Department, which manages the six backcountry yurts, sent e-mails to holders of yurt reservations for this fall and winter cancelling those reservations. I lost my reservation for January. This occurred after the Boise National Forest discovered that it didn't have a special-use permit with IDPR for operating the yurt system.
The Idaho City yurts are really fun. Watch my video from a past winter!