Dark Days in Rocky Canyon


Yesterday (Monday), the Boise National Forest Service used sledge hammers to remove the pools at Rocky Canyon Hot Springs despite tremendous public outcry.

Rocky was one of those rare, special places that encouraged people to form relationships with nature by merely visiting. It was a place that also fostered environmental stewardship, and even created a few activists. Just by visiting. Rare indeed. A true place of peace.

Thank you everyone who called-in, signed the petition, wrote letters, commented and spoke out. You are all awesome! A special thanks to Loyd for creating the petition and Brandt for speaking out. Lincoln (KIVI) and Kelsey (KTVB) for the media coverage, and the pool builder for creating pools that complimented the natural landscape. I had no idea that Idaho’s hot springs had so many defenders.

KTVB ran a story yesterday that was updated today with pictures of how Rocky looks right now. Here’s the video clip:

What the Media Can’t Tell You

  1. The FS is considering rebuilding the mortar reinforced pools. Taxpayers footed the bill for their removal. This money could have been better spent.
  2. The tarp-lined pools that existed before the mortar reinforced pools were an eye sore and bad for the environment.
  3. The pools at Rocky were rock-walled, only reinforced with mortar. Many other area pools are composed of pure mortar. They looked more natural than those lined with blue tarps or all mortar walls.
  4. There are many mortar reinforced hot springs pools that the FS knows about, which receive a TON more visitors and have abuse problems galore that include death. Hardly anyone visits Rocky in contrast… it’s more off the beaten path.
  5. Complaints to the FS originated from a small group of people that represent a larger group that are known environmental abusers in the Boise National Forest. I didn’t believe it until I witnessed it first hand (read the last half of this post).
  6. Over 400 people signed a petition against the removal of the pools in just a few days. Far fewer spoke out in favor of the demolition.
  7. Most area FS employees loved and enjoyed the pools at Rocky and did not want to see them go. Pressure from a small group of influential people aimed at FS bosses was hard to ignore.

My heart sinks when I hear the complaints about the hot springs dealt with drugs, sex and alcohol. That is not a fair representation of geothermal enthusiasts. Like everything else, it only takes one bad apple.

Unfortunately, it matters not if the pools are rock/tarp or mortar reinforced. This type of abuse will continue. Removing the pools does nothing to address the situation. Which, if true, will be a problem again.

This means it’s up to us hot springers. If you see someone at a public hot springs doing something they shouldn’t be doing – say something. Politely if at all possible. If this type of behavior exists, and continues… we risk loosing them all.

474north - View my 'rockycanyon' photos on Flickriver

View all past blog posts about Rocky Canyon Hot Springs

View all tweets about Rocky Canyon Hot Springs


Loyd Endings said...

I noticed on your site, "09.2009 Vulcan Hot Springs in Idaho Dismantled by Forest Service" but found no other details. Can you provide a bit more information what happened at Vulcan recently?

HSG said...

Hi Loyd,

I wish I had more details... I was tipped-off by a few different hot springers as to the removal of the pool in September. It sounds like the FS took it down while working on nearby FSR 474 South. I have yet to make it out to verify, but have heard recently that a small pool has been built that will fit a couple soakers.

Interesting to note, if you look at Vulcan on Google Maps, it looks like there is a National Forest service road leading right up to the hot springs from the southeast. I've spent a lot of time in that area and don't ever remember a road there. Do you?

Loyd Endings said...

We camped in the area around the middle of October 2009 but didn't go to Vulcan. The out house and campground near the Vulcan trail head no longer exist. A new out house has been built on the other side of the road with indications of camping spots being built there as well.

"...don't ever remember a road there. Do you?" Nope. And we didn't see any evidence of a new road any where. I have been going to the area for 20+ years and know it fairly well also.

The multi-colored triangle flags were being replaced with boulders in some areas. It appears many of the previous primitive camping spots may no longer be available!?

Brandon said...

That is incredibly incredibly sad. I'm not sure I want to be part of a government that is so irresponsible with our land. I want a government that protects people's favorite places, not destroys them.

Is there any community effort as a follow up to this? Can you email the 400 signers to let them know about this? Maybe we can rebuild them with the FS's support.

Brandt Seefeldt said...

Tucked away in the back of The Idaho World newspaper, less than 30 days after the destruction of the free hotsprings pools at Rocky Canyon, is a request for public comment on making extensive improvements to the campgrounds at Silver Creek Plunge (the pay hotsprings) that is approximately 12 miles beyond Rocky Canyon.

This request for public comment has been made by USFS Ranger John Erickson, the same Ranger that ordered the demolition.

The $1.55 million that John is looking to spend comes from American Recovery Act(Stimulus) monies that, as I understand, were supposed to put towards creating new jobs. According to Erickson 9-12 new construction jobs will be created to do the improvements while only 1-2 news jobs will exist after completion.

So what do you think? Is this a wise use of taxpayer stimulus monies? Are you in favor or do you think its a bad idea? It is now our chance to tell John and the USFS how you feel.

The request has been made that comments be made using microsoft word friendly programs. Emails should be sent to jerickson@fs.fed.us as well as to Senator Jim Risch's office at mike_roach@risch.senate.gov., your comments must include your name and address. If you want to cc me at brandtwood@gmail.com, please do.

You only have until 12/15 to let your feeling be heard.

Thanks you and Happy Holidays!

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