Recent wet conditions have forced the U.S. Forest Service to temporarily close all roads on the Pole Mountain unit of the Medicine Bow National Forest.

The Forest Service says in a press release that wheeled motor vehicles are prohibited while the closure in effect. The closure does not impact non-motorized activities such as hiking, hunting, bicycling, and skiing.

The closures went into effect Wednesday, and begin at signed gates along main entrances from Highway 210 and Interstate 80. Access to private lands, Forest Service permit holders and use of the Tie City or Happy Jack Recreation Areas will not be affected by the closure.

The Forest Service says that for the third year in a row, the decision to close Pole Mountain roads has come as a last resort after years of damage. Illegal off-road travel in wet conditions has damaged roadbeds as well as soil and vegetation resources for years, prompting the closures.

“Once again we have made the decision to protect public resources during a fragile time of year,” says Laramie District Ranger Frank Romero. “I want to stress that these closures are not intended to unnecessarily shut off access to the National Forest.”

Romero says the recent warm, windy weather is melting snow on Pole Mountain and people have started to drive on wet roads or around snow drifts.

“As part of the ongoing Pole Mountain Travel Management Project, we are searching for the best way to deal with these issues in the long term,” says Romero. “We have put forth a proposed action with set annual dates for temporary closures and the hope is for continued public input as we move through this process.”

The Forest Service emphasizes that users must stay on designated routes and are not permitted to travel off-road, even when roads begin to dry and reopen.

Forest Service officials will continue to evaluate road conditions and closures will be lifted as conditions allow. The agency says public education on protecting roadbeds and natural resources is key to access and travel management on Pole Mountain.