Friday, March 21, 2008

New bridge proposed for Alturas Lake Creek

Sawtooth National Recreation Area officials seek public comment


By JASON KAUFFMAN
Express Staff Writer

Officials with the Sawtooth National Recreation Area propose to replace a failing, log ski-trail bridge across Alturas Lake Creek with a steel-and-timber bridge, and are asking for public comment on the plan.

SNRA officials propose to use the old Murphy's Bridge, which until recently crossed the Big Wood River as part of the Blaine County Recreation District's North Valley Trails system. The bridge became available when a wider one was built across the Big Wood, a news release from the SNRA states.

The new bridge location on the Alturas Lake Ski Trail system is about one-quarter mile downstream from the existing bridge site.

Alturas Lake is about 40 miles northwest of Ketchum and about 20 miles south of Stanley. The lake is a popular year-round recreational destination on the east side of the Sawtooth Mountains.

The new bridge would provide a crossing for skiers on the groomed Alturas Lake Ski Trail system and would also be open for summer non-motorized use. The bridge would be set on treated timber abutments outside the high water line of Alturas Lake Creek, U.S. Forest Service officials say. Some heavy equipment access would be necessary to set the abutments and bridge. However, no equipment would be allowed in the stream.

The plan also calls for about one-quarter mile of 16-foot-wide access corridor to be cleared of impediments to grooming. Where necessary, the Forest Service anticipates that access to the new bridge site would be improved and road fill imported to allow the bridge to be transported to the location.

When completed, all road fill used in the project would be removed and clearings would be restored to their original condition, officials say. The existing log bridge would be partially disassembled to improve fish habitat and public safety. Access corridors to the existing bridge would also be revegetated.

Prior to making any decisions regarding the proposal, the Forest Service will comple an analysis of the project area. The agency is asking for public comment on the plan to ensure that no issues are overlooked.

Additional information, including maps showing the project area, may be obtained by contacting Ed Cannady at the SNRA Headquarters, 5 North Fork Canyon Rd., Ketchum, ID, 83340, or at 727-5000.

Comments on the proposal should be sent to Sawtooth National Recreation Area, Attention: Alturas Lake Ski Bridge Project, 5 North Fork Canyon Rd., Ketchum, ID 83340. Comments may be faxed to 727-5029.

E-mailed comments on the plan should be sent to ecannady@fs.fed.us.

The Forest Service has requested that comments be sent by April 18.




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