Friday, January 12, 2007

Long list of projects proposed for Sawtooth National Forest

Public comment period closes Jan. 22

Express Staff Writer

Visitors Tom and Sue Markham, of Florida, enjoy one of the Sawtooth National Forest?s many campgrounds on their way to Alaska last summer. Photo by David N. Seelig

Several projects within the Ketchum and Fairfield ranger districts and the Sawtooth National Recreation Area are being considered by the Sawtooth National Forest, which is seeking public feedback prior to Jan. 22.

The projects, which would be funded partially by grant money from the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation, include upgrades to motorized and non-motorized trails, parking areas, bridges and roads.

Here is a rundown of the proposed projects.

Ketchum Ranger District

There are four proposals on motorized trails on the Ketchum Ranger District, including two in the Greenhorn area south of Ketchum.

The Forest Service wants to reroute sections of the Lodgepole Creek and Cow Creek trails in the Greenhorn area. Relocation of 1,000 feet of trail away from the streambed and reconstruction of 500 feet of eroded tread is planned for Lodgepole Creek Trail. The Cow Creek Trail project would relocate 1,400 feet of the trail out of the fall line onto side-hill locations, incorporating a series of climbing turns to gain elevation along 4,600 feet of trail.

The Castle Creek Trail, located in the Warm Springs drainage, could also see reconstruction of 1,900 feet of deeply trenched tread. Three log bridges along the Porcupine Creek Trail, located north of the Little Wood Reservoir in the Pioneer Mountains, could be replaced with new wood laminate style bridges.

Non-motorized trail projects are proposed for Chocolate Gulch, Trail Creek, Adams Gulch and Timber Draw.

A quarter mile of Chocolate Gulch Trail is in need of repairs. The Forest Service wants to relocate 1,000 feet of Trail Creek Trail away from the streamside onto a low bench and repair 500 feet of eroded trail.

A 300-foot steep section of Adams Loop Trail known as "Pork Chop" could be reinforced with native cobblestone rock to retain the steep grade and sharp turns. Sustainable high-use mountain bike trail construction techniques would be used.

About 1,700 feet of excessively steep tread on Timber Draw Trail, located in the East Fork of the Big Wood River drainage, could be relocated to create an expanded horse, bike and hiker-friendly loop with Federal Gulch Trail.

The Forest Service also wants to expand the parking area at Greenhorn Trailhead, which continues to experience heavy use. The new parking area would be constructed to accommodate trucks and trailers for both horses and motorcycles.

To comment on Ketchum Ranger District projects, contact Renee Catherin at (208) 622-0096 or (208) 309-1544.

Sawtooth National Recreation Area

The Forest Service is proposing to completely reconstruct the Point Campground at Redfish Lake, near Stanley. Work includes reconstruction of the campground and beach area including new restroom facilities, signs, tables, fire grills, gates, pathways, recycling centers, asphalt roadways, parking areas, drinking water and irrigation systems.

Sockeye Campground at Redfish Lake could also face similar reconstruction and upgrades.

The Forest Service also wants to reconstruct the Elk Creek Boat Launch on the upper main Salmon River approximately one mile downstream from the Yankee Fork confluence. The failing log-slide structure would be replaced with a new elevated steel and timber structure with stairs leading down to the water's edge.

A bridge on the Alturas ski trail could be replaced with the existing Murphy's Bridge, located on the Harriman Trail north of Ketchum. The bridge would be installed over Alturas Lake Creek, given that the replacement of Murphy's Bridge actually occurs.

Numerous upgrades and repairs are proposed for Walker Lake Trail, located in the White Cloud Mountains. The project would include the construction of rock turnpikes over two boggy sections of trail totaling 120 feet. Over approximately 1 mile of trail new rock water bars will be added and existing water bars repaired. In addition, large rock outcroppings could be removed or blasted where necessary. This project would be the second phase of the work completed last summer to reroute the trail around Quicksand Meadows.

Repairs to about 4 miles of Sand Mountain Pass Trail in the Sawtooth Wilderness could also occur. Several areas of narrow sloughed trail and damaged rock cribbing could be reconstructed and some rock outcroppings and trees that are crowding the trails could be removed.

Approximately 2 miles of the Martin and Big Casino Creek Trail in the Big Casino Creek Drainage of the White Cloud Mountains could be reconstructed. Multiple creek crossings, boggy trail sections, and excessively steep sections of trail would be avoided through the planned reroutes. In addition, two puncheons (approximately 105 feet), a 20-foot timber bridge, two culverts, and a 20-foot section of turnpike would be constructed to harden wet areas. All abandoned trail sections would be rehabilitated to prevent continued erosion and encourage plant growth.

The Forest Service is also proposing to purchase a motorcycle for trail patrols in order to inform and engage users on upcoming travel rules and to provide education using existing "Tread Lightly" techniques and materials. The emphasis is to educate motorized vehicle users in the SNRA about areas open to motorized use and existing travel regulations, and to request feedback from users about what routes they would like to see open to motorized use.

To comment on SNRA proposals, contact Eric McQuay at (208) 774-3037.

Fairfield Ranger District

Fairfield motorized trail projects include bridge improvements on Virginia Gulch and Boardman Creek, installation of a bridge on Skeleton Creek, and trail re-routes and maintenance on Gardner Gulch Trail, Lick Creek Trail, Little Water Trail, the Camp Creek and Willow Creek Trail connector and North Fork Ross Fork Creek Trail. The reopening of the Miller Creek Trail and development of a learners' riding loop area on Kelly Creek Flats are also proposed.

The nature trail located within Baumgartner Campground needs heavy maintenance, including installation of boardwalks over low areas and three benches to provide resting spots and scenic viewing along the trail. Updates to outdated signs, minor rerouting around difficult sections of the trail and native plant restoration near the hot spring are also proposed.

The Forest Service is also proposing the construction of a group camping area adjacent to the South Fork of the Boise River near the entrance to Baumgartner Campground.

The Ketchum-Featherville Road also needs improvement, including the resurfacing of approximately 2 miles of Forest Road 70227 within the stretch between the Sawtooth National Forest boundary and the turnoff to Baumgartner Campground.

To comment on Fairfield Ranger District projects, contact Ann Frost at (208) 764-3202.

Who to call

· Ketchum Ranger District: Renee Catherin, (208) 622-0096 or (208) 309-1544.

· SNRA: Eric McQuay, (208) 774-3037.

· Fairfield Ranger District: Ann Frost, (208) 764-3202.

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