Friday, February 2, 2007

Rec District to launch campaign for trails


By TREVOR SCHUBERT
Express Staff Writer

The Galena Lodge and Trails Advisory Council laid out ambitious plans to increase fund raising and improve the already successful North Valley Trails system on Wednesday, Jan. 31, during the Blaine County Recreation District's board of directors meeting.

The district, which receives a substantial amount of its revenue from North Valley Trails pass sales, expressed excitement over the council's plans for the future and appreciation for its work in the past.

"We're really happy with where we are at," said Steve Haims of the advisory council. "We're ready to get the word out that we are moving forward and looking to raise money."

The success of the hike in the price of the North Valley Trails pass is open for debate. Passes last year cost $95 and this year they went up to $140 if bought during the early season or $160 if bought later. At the end of January 2006, pass sales brought in $227,000 and this year shows pass sale revenue at $330,000. It's a substantial increase in revenue, but with fewer Wood River Valley residents purchasing passes, the district questioned if the move was counter-productive.

"I think we assumed a little more price elasticity when we raised the price," said Wally Morgus, executive director of the district. "It will be interesting to see if day pass sales go up due to the increase."

The advisory council's plans include an increased focus on fund raising and public relations to allow for capital improvements to Galena Lodge, Haims said.

No tax dollars support the Nordic ski system, and trail fees only make up a portion of grooming, sign, and trail maintenance costs. In fact, the purchase of Galena Lodge in 1994 and the subsequent renovations are all thanks to generous community donations and volunteer assistance.

The new fund-raising campaign the advisory council is preparing to embark on sets a goal of raising $500,000 a year for the next five years, Haims said.

Haims said additional revenue would fund much needed programs and improvements. A few of the more noteworthy projects include replacing Murphy's Bridge, rock cutting in and around the trail system, standard repairs at Galena Lodge, improved maintenance facilities, and weed control on the Harriman Trail.

The advisory council plans to officially launch the campaign next week.

The meeting also provided the district a chance to review some of the trail system's recent successes.

"The feedback we're getting is that all the trails are in the best shape they have ever been in," Morgus said.




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