Parks and Rec moves ahead with ATV
Local representative votes against
By GREG STAHL
Express Staff Writer
At its April meeting in Post Falls, the
Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation’s governing board voted 5-1 to offer
itself a matching grant totaling $86,250 for use in establishing a 250-mile
all-terrain-vehicle loop that would connect Challis to Arco.
Board member and Sun Valley City
Councilman Latham Williams objected to the funding and said the proposed
project, as planned, is too big and understaffed.
Though the initial project has already
been scaled back from 460 miles by eliminating spur trails, Williams suggested
beginning with a smaller trial project that could later be increased in scale.
He also said improved off-road
recreational opportunities like the Parks and Recreation plan should be
accompanied by closures of other areas, "particularly in those areas like Copper
Basin that are most sensitive."
According to the meeting’s minutes,
Williams offered the only discussion on the topic before a vote was taken to
allocate a package of grants, including the $86,250 for the ATV project.
ATV use in Idaho is booming. In the five
years preceding 2001, off-highway-vehicle registrations rose from 27,700 to
55,100. Today there are more than 70,000 registered in Idaho.
Parks and Recreation managers said the
proposed "demonstration project" is designed to help Parks and Recreation
employees monitor and evaluate potential management strategies for ATV use in
In general, the western half of the
250-mile loop would proceed south from Challis through the dry foothills of the
White Cloud Mountains to the White Knob Mountains, west of Mackay, and continue
south over Antelope Creek Pass into Bureau of Land Management range land west of
From Arco, the loop would circle the
southern end of the Lost River Range to Howe, and then proceed up the Little
Lost River drainage over the Hawley Mountains to the Donkey Hills and the
Pahsimeroi River drainage. West of May, the ATV loop would cross the Pahsimeroi
Mountains to reach Challis.
The land within the loop’s perimeter could
encircle the entire states of Delaware or Rhode Island.
Williams said the scale is too much.
"We need to start with a smaller pilot
project, perhaps a loop around Mackay, and evaluate the resource impacts,
enforcement needs and customer issues before considering an expansion beyond the
pilot project," Williams said at the April meeting, according to meeting
"As a department, we need to push ATV
education forward faster, especially given the significant growth in ATV use
that Idaho has experienced in the last decade," he continued. "We need to make
ATV education classes more numerous and convenient, and we need to consider
asking the Legislature to make ATV education mandatory in a manner similar to