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Moon and Thompson passes closed for season

by CHANSE WATSON
Hagadone News Network | December 4, 2020 1:00 AM

Shoshone County Public Works Director Jim Cason announced on Monday that Thompson Pass and Moon Pass are closed to automobile traffic for the winter season.

Public Works administrative assistant Jessica Stutzke said road crews have installed signage to warn drivers that those passes are no longer maintained for travel.

"The snow load is so much that it's just impossible to keep up with it," she said.

With Thompson Pass, a paved highway that connects Murray/Shoshone County to Thompson Falls/Sanders County, Mont., both agencies who are involved in maintaining it agree to close it on both sides so everyone is on the same page.

As for Moon Pass, the Silver Valley's summer link to Avery/Calder, county road crews cannot maintain the unpaved road in those higher elevations. Shoshone County Sheriff Mike Gunderson said his office, along with other local agencies, has had issues in the past with people who think they can best the hazardous conditions.

"Every year, we rescue several people that try to operate motor vehicles over Moon Pass. This not only puts a strain on resources, but is dangerous as this trail is not used daily, so people can be stuck for several days before being encountered."

In addition to it being dangerous, Gunderson adds that people who try to travel the closed passes can face repercussions such as being financially responsible for the resources used to rescue them and being issued one of many different types of misdemeanor citations — all of which come with hefty fines and possibly jail time.

Until roughly late-April/May 2021 when the passes reopen, drivers looking to make it to Thompson Falls will have to use either Highway 135 from St. Regis to Highway 200, or Highway 200 from Sandpoint. For Silver Valley to St. Joe region drivers, the only route is Highway 3 to St. Maries.