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Officials with the U.S. Forest Service in Idaho are asking people to refrain from trying to dig out a new pool at the popular Jerry Johnson hot springs near Lolo Pass until they can determine how to fix the site.

On or about March 17, the largest hot spring pool at the Jerry Johnson recreation site, which is located a short hike from U.S. Highway 12, was completely filled with silt and debris from heavy rains and high runoff.

"While visitors are obviously anxious to resume soaking, we ask that you allow natural hydraulics in the area to settle so forest staff can determine if this event affected the location and/or flow of the geothermal springs," said Jennifer Becar, a public affairs specialist with the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests. "After spring flows level off, the site will be assessed to determine what management is appropriate."

Becar said that damaging natural features can result in a fine of $250 according to Idaho law.

"Please help protect the integrity of this special place and allow natural processes to proceed by not disturbing the ground or digging holes in the debris," she said. "There is no guarantee you’ll find a 'hot' spot where one previously existed, particularly while ground saturation is high."

Anyone who would like to assist with future site maintenance as a volunteer can contact the Kooskia Ranger Station at 208-926-4274.

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