A 40-foot long damaged bridge that had washed into the Middle Fork Salmon River was removed in mid-September 2022 by employees of Helfrich River Outfitters.

The 12,000-pound Ramshorn Pack Bridge was carried into the river in an early August debris flow on Ramshorn Creek, according to the Forest Service. The bridge was essentially demolished and was covered by thousands of pounds of logs, vegetation, rock and debris. It was obstructing river traffic and had become a safety concern.

Forest Service officials didn’t want the bridge to stay in the river all winter where spring runoff could have pushed it into a worse position.

Helfrich Outfitters was hired to remove the bridge through the outfitter fee offset program. Outfitters are charged a use fee to operate in national forests. Those fees can be reduced if the outfitter does work on the forest. Since 2020 in the Salmon-Challis Forest, 850 miles of trails have been rehabilitated through the program, the Boundary Creek boat launch road has been graded, gates have been replaced and campgrounds and trailheads upgraded.

“We knew the (Forest Service) was spread pretty thin with fighting fires this year and understand that contracting the bridge removal could take a long time,” Kidd Youren with Helfrich Outfitters said. “We looked at removing the bridge, knew we could get the job done, and we were willing to do our part.  This was a good solution for both river users and the Forest Service.”

It took Helfrich workers four-days to remove the bridge from the river and secure it to the bank above the high water mark. In the spring, it will be dismantled so the pieces can be removed from the wilderness. 

Published Oct 6, 2022

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