As the Memorial Day weekend nears, the USDA Forest Service suggests exploration of dispersed recreation opportunities on the Idaho Panhandle National Forests, encouraging forest visitors   who want to get into the great outdoors, to be aware of limited campground availability on the forest.

Since March, developed campgrounds and other recreation sites on the Idaho Panhandle National Forests (IPNF) have been temporarily closed for public safety. The sites are tentatively scheduled to start opening May 30 upon entry into Stage 3 of Idaho Governor Brad Little’s Idaho Rebounds Strategy. Dispersed camping, hiking, trail use, and other dispersed activities are encouraged across the National Forests. Memorial Day Weekend visitors should prepare for limited or no services, such as restroom facilities and garbage collection (pack it in pack it out).

The Forest Service is working closely with concessionaires that operate many of the campgrounds and day use sites to ensure compliance with applicable state and federal COVID-19 guidelines and prepare sites after the winter closures to ensure a safe experience. Many campgrounds have experienced extensive wind and hazard tree damage over the winter and repair is ongoing or will begin soon as seasonal staff on-boards. Public and employee safety is a top priority. The Forest Service asks visitors to avoid developed campgrounds so staff can work as quickly as possible to open many sites by the end of May.

Nationwide, most of your national forests and grasslands remain open for you to enjoy, and we look forward to the day when all locations can safely reopen. The Forest Service is making every effort to expand access while following CDC guidance and state and local government orders to protect people and employees. Most of the Idaho Panhandle National Forests trails, trailheads, day-use sites and boat ramps remain open. For the most up to date information on closures and when campgrounds are scheduled to open, please visit our website at: https://www.fs.usda.gov/ipnf/

Some maintenance services are limited at this time, so we ask everyone to practice Leave No Trace etiquette and adhere to CDC guidelines:

§  Prepare for limited or no services, such as restroom facilities and garbage collection (pack it in pack it out)

§  Bears are emerging so remember to store food properly and carry bear spray

§  Avoid gathering with others in parking lots, trails, scenic overlooks and other areas

§  To prevent illnesses like COVID-19 wash hands often, stick to group sizes of 10 or less, and practice social distancing.

§  Please remember to review current recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention along with local and state guidelines for social distancing and cloth face coverings.

The White House is highlighting Idaho as a leader among states for our plans to safely and responsibly reopen the economy and for how we are allocating federal relief funds.

“In recent media events and during meetings with state leaders, President Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, and White House officials have called out Idaho as an example for other states to follow in our staged approach to reopening, how we are prioritizing direct assistance to small businesses in our use of federal relief funds, and our level of transparency in reporting use of the funds,” Governor Little said.

“We are encouraged to see so many states embracing the phased approach to reopening their economies that’s contemplated in our guidelines for Opening Up America Again. Governor Brad Little of Idaho released ‘Rebound Idaho’…that will consist of four phases and require specific criteria that Idaho and businesses need to meet to begin to reopen,” Vice President Mike Pence said recently.

Governor Little approved his Coronavirus Financial Advisory Committee’s recommendations for allocation of funds from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The full breakdown is available at https://coronavirus.idaho.gov/coronavirus-financial-advisory-committee/.

Two-thirds of the federal funds that have been allocated so far in Idaho – more than $300 million – will go directly to small business in the form of cash grants and cash for personal protective equipment to support workers and customers. No other state is putting up more money to directly support small business.

The majority of the remaining amount has been allocated to local governments and tribal governments throughout Idaho.

Idaho received $1.25 billion in April as part of the CARES Act. Approximately 36-percent of the funds have been allocated so far, and the rest remains in a state account to cover any extraordinary and unanticipated expenses that may arise.

All expenditures of the CARES Act funds will be made available at Transparent.Idaho.Gov, State Controller Brandon Woolf’s web site that shows Idaho citizens how taxpayer dollars are being spent.

“Our priority is to directly support small businesses as much as possible as we prudently and judiciously expend these taxpayer dollars. I want to thank President Trump, our congressional delegation, and our champion of transparency State Controller Brandon Woolf, for their support,” Governor Little said.

Small businesses can begin applying for the Idaho Rebound cash grants today. Information on how to apply is at https://rebound.idaho.gov/idaho-rebound-cash-grants-for-small-businesses/.

Governor Brad Little announced today the full eligibility criteria and process for small businesses to apply for an Idaho Rebound cash grant.

Governor Little announced last week that $300 million in cash grants will be made available to Idaho small businesses impacted by COVID-19.

No other state in the country is putting up more money in direct cash support for small businesses.

Cash grants of up to $10,000 will be directly deposited into the bank accounts for eligible businesses. More than 30,000 businesses could benefit.

The Governor’s Coronavirus Financial Advisory Committee finalized the eligibility criteria and related details.

Applications will be handled in two waves:

  • Eligible entities with one to 19 employees may apply starting at noon MDT on May 11 through noon MDT on May 15
  • Eligible entities with one to 50 employees may apply starting at noon MDT on May 18 through noon MDT on May 22

All applicants must first establish a secure Taxpayer Access Point (TAP) account if they do not already have one, in order to protect their personal and business information on submitted applications.

All eligibility criteria, information on how to apply along with instructions on how to gain a TAP account are available at https://rebound.idaho.gov/idaho-rebound-cash-grants-for-small-businesses/

Recipients of the grants will be shared at Transparent.Idaho.Gov when information is available.

Governor Brad Little announced plans today for more than 30,000 Idaho small businesses to receive Idaho Rebound cash grants, a $300 million investment in Idaho’s small business employers.

News of the cash grants comes as Governor Little announced Idaho has met the criteria to enter Stage 1 of the reopening plan on May 1.

Cash grants of up to $10,000 will be available to small businesses. Businesses will be eligible if they have not already received an SBA-backed Payroll Protection loan or received less than $10,000 in such a loan.

The criteria and process to apply will be made available at Rebound.Idaho.Gov on May 5 at 9 a.m. MDT. Applications will be accepted starting May 11.

To apply, small businesses must create a Taxpayer Access Point (TAP) account through the Tax Commission if they do not already have one. Small businesses are encouraged to create a TAP account as soon as possible. Information on creating such an account is available here: https://rebound.idaho.gov/idaho-rebound-cash-grants-for-small-businesses/

Idaho enters Stage 1 of reopening

Governor Little also replaced the previous statewide stay-home order with his new “Stay Healthy Order” for Stage 1. The order follows the guidance of the President and CDC and was developed in close and constant consultation with the state epidemiologists. It will be available at Coronavirus.Idaho.Gov.

Stage 1 means 90-percent of businesses can open their doors on May 1. To ensure consumer and employee confidence, businesses must follow protocols to ensure physical distancing, sanitation, and other measures are followed in Stage 1.

In Stage 1:

  • Places of worship, daycares, and organized youth activities and day camps can reopen as long as they follow protocols.
  • The 14-day self-quarantine for people entering the state will continue, to prevent an influx of out-of-state visitors who could be carrying the virus into Idaho.
  • Vulnerable Idahoans should continue to stay at home if they can.
  • Employees are encouraged to continue teleworking, and employers should return employees to work in phases.
  • Gatherings of any size, both public and private, should be avoided.
  • Non-essential travel should be minimized or avoided.
  • Dine-in at restaurants must remain closed, but pick-up and delivery options will still available. In the next two weeks, restaurant operators should develop plans to open for dine-in on May 16 during Stage 2. Protocols will be available at Rebound.Idaho.Gov before close of business today.
  • Indoor gyms, recreation facilities, and close contact services such as massage, hair and nail salons remain closed but can make plans to reopen on May 16 in Stage 2 if they follow protocols.
  • Visits to senior living facilities and congregate facilities such as jails and prisons are prohibited.
  • Bars, nightclubs, and large venues must remain closed.

If Idaho meets criteria to progress to the next stage over the next two weeks, then Stage 2 will begin May 16. Details are at Rebound.Idaho.Gov.

As part of Idaho Gives, Idaho Trails Association is hosting two events to engage the backpacking and hiking community.

Trail Master Series Webinar: Backcountry Cooking with Carrie

Wednesday, April 29, 2020 at 7 PM – 8 PM

Tired of eating pre-package backpacking meals? Guest speaker Carrie Holmes, a certified health coach, wants to help YOU spice up your backpacking meals. She will cover general hiking and backpacking nutrition, incorporating plant-based options into your menu, and how to bring a cultural flair to your recipes. Carrie has done extensive research into foods and spices from other cultures and wants to help you create delectable meals that will make your hiking partners jealous.

Click here to register: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_rnzFygpeRjSVBhX-UKaCJg

Digital Campfire Tales

Wednesday, May 6, 2020 at 7:30 PM – 9 PM

Join us for a night around the campfire telling stories! In this live webinar event, members from the ITA community will share their harrowing, hilarious or heartwarming trail tales from all over the state. There will be an opportunity for you as an audience member to “raise your hand” during the event and tell your favorite trail story. So get cozy around a fire (in your backyard?), grab a beer, and join us for a night of stories with Idaho’s trail community!

Sign up here to join the Zoom Webinar: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_n3dX1AS7RFmMWxrtoGY-yQ

If you have an amazing story to tell and would like to be added to our list of storytellers, email kelly@idahotrailsassociation.org.