Lost River ATV trail put on back burner
Idaho Parks and Recreation Department
undertakes planning process
By GREG STAHL
Express Staff Writer
When Idaho Department of Parks and
Recreation Director Rick Collignon resigned in early April, some of the wind in
the sail of a proposed 460-mile off-road-vehicle loop connecting Challis, Mackay
and Arco began to wane.
While the trail is no longer one of the
agencyís leading priorities, it also is not off the table, said parks and
recreation comprehensive planner Connie Vaughn.
"The last I heard about the Lost River
Trail is that it is not a priority any longer," she said.
Vaughn gave a presentation Wednesday
evening at the Community Campus in Hailey to about a dozen local residents.
While the purpose of Vaughnís visit was to gather public comments to help the
agency draft new planning documents, the majority of the publicís inquiry
centered on the so-called Lost River Recreation Trailway.
During much of the meeting, local
residents asked questions about the state agencyís budget and the money it
distributes from the state fuel tax to off-road vehicle programs, including its
"Those of us who do not use off-road
vehicles are asked to subsidize those who do use that type of transportation,"
said Andy Goodwin, a Mackay area rancher and part-time Ketchum resident. "Who
gave the parks and recreation people the mandate to advocate for off-road
Citing the departmentís Idaho Recreation
Demand Assessment, Ketchum-based Wilderness Society member Norma Douglas said
the public at large does not appear to place off-road-vehicle trail systems as a
high priority. In the assessment, water quality ranked first, followed by access
to public lands and protecting public lands resources, she said.
Providing off-road-vehicle trail systems
ranked 17, she said.
"If this was the guiding document, how did
we get a 460-mile trail proposal?" she asked, further stating that the
departmentís credibility with the current planning process might be wearing thin
because of the seeming disconnect between public wishes and the
department-driven off-road-vehicle loop.
Asking a long-standing question about the
trail proposal, which underwent numerous public hearings and sustained
significant scrutiny from residents of the Wood River and Lost River valleys two
years ago, a Blaine County senator said he still wants to know where the
proposalís origins lie.
"No one seems to know where the Lost River
Trail proposal came from, including me," said Sen. Clint Stennett, D-Ketchum.
On point with Vaughnís visit, the
department is visiting every county in the state this spring and summer in an
effort to find out what kind of recreation opportunities people need in and near
their local communities.
The public meetings are part of a
three-pronged effort to analyze outdoor recreation needs. In addition to the
county-by-county meetings, the recreation research center will conduct regional
focus group sessions with city, state and federal recreation advocates. Using
that information, county-specific questionnaires will be drafted and sent
randomly to households in each county.
"Itís important for everyone to understand
that weíre talking about all kinds of outdoor recreation, not just activities
that take place in state parks," said Rick Just, the departmentís outdoor
recreation data center coordinator. "We need to find out what people want to do
in their local parks, at school facilities and on federal lands.
"What we find out helps us rank outdoor
recreation grant applications and gives direction to city, county, state and
federal recreation programs statewide."
The departmentís current strategic plan
was meant to apply from 2001 to 2005.
"Our next strategic plan needs to start
now," Vaughn said.