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Sportsmen gain access to 23,000 acres of public lands through Myrtle Creek Preserve

by T.J. ROSS Contributing Writer
| August 4, 2022 1:00 AM

After an 85-year closure to hunting, fishing and trapping, Myrtle Creek Preserve is once again open and accessible by sportsmen thanks to approval by the Idaho Fish and Game Commission in July.

The preserve is a vast piece of real estate in the Kootenai River Basin in the Panhandle, spanning nearly 23,000 acres or 36 square miles of ground. The preserve encompasses the entirety of the Myrtle Creek drainage, which flows off the east side of the Selkirk Range and into the Kootenai River.

“With access being a continual challenge, opportunities such as this to open additional ground for sportsmen to recreate are very important,” said Fish and Game Panhandle Regional Supervisor Carson Watkins. “This will restore tremendous recreation opportunity in a wildlife rich part of the state, and the local public is supportive.”

After the Commission’s decision to open Myrtle Creek Preserve to hunting, fishing and trapping is a win for sportsmen.

The preserve is a mosaic of large burns, timber cuts and vast stretches of uninterrupted forest, leaving it with good habitat quality for game. It is home to nearly all big and small game species in the Panhandle, and Myrtle Creek itself offers anglers a chance at landing a variety of trout species.

Although the initial intent of establishing the game preserve in 1937 was to protect wildlife from over-harvest, additional legislation was later adopted specifically to protect water quality, as Myrtle Creek is the municipal water source for the nearby town of Bonners Ferry.

It is well accepted that recreation does not jeopardize water quality, so with written consent from the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality and the city of Bonners Ferry, Myrtle Creek Preserve is once again open to hunting, fishing and trapping. The city council of Bonners Ferry approved the writing of a letter to the Idaho Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Idaho Legislature in support of opening the Myrtle Creek Preserve at the May 3 meeting.

Removal of hunting, fishing and trapping closures on game preserves in Idaho has happened often in the past. In fact, of the 33 game preserves established by the legislature in the former part of the last century, Myrtle Creek Preserve was one of only four that remained closed to hunting, fishing and trapping.

All hunting, fishing and trapping seasons and rules in game management unit 1 will apply to Myrtle Creek Preserve to ensure all species are “preserved, protected, perpetuated and managed,” consistent with the Fish and Game mission statement and State of Idaho Wildlife Policy.

As such, Fish and Game is dedicated to ensuring that all fish and wildlife resources throughout the state of Idaho persist, including those within the bounds of the game preserve.

Please contact the Panhandle Regional office for more information at 208-769-1414 and follow us on the Panhandle Region Facebook page for regular news and updates.

T.J. Ross is the regional communications manager for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.

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