I understand that the renovation of the Bethine and Frank Church Overlook and the removal of the restroom facilities is based on cost, but I believe that Idaho's economic future rests on tourism, and removing the toilet facilities at this major stopping point is an unfriendly and potentially unsanitary move.
The Galena Overlook between Ketchum and Stanley is probably the most visited site in the 756,000-acre SNRA, and I feel it is unwise to spend money on the parking lot and interpretive signage while visitors are reduced to relieving themselves behind rocks and bushes on the sides of Highway 75 north and south of the overlook.
Besides automobile traffic, this is also a major bicycle route for tourist groups and racers, and it is a very long distance to bathrooms at either Galena Lodge or Smiley Creek.
I understand that vault toilets, such as those used at trailheads, are the alternative recommended by Forest Service engineers as most economically feasible in the long range for Galena. What about contacting the Forest Service and our congressional delegates to recommend that a partnership with other Idaho entities such as the Idaho Department of Tourism and the Sawtooth Society be explored as an alternative source of funding to take the total burden of installation and maintenance off the shoulders of the Forest Service?
In this hard economic time, a partnership of funding could be a win-win situation for everyone.
If readers want to make this happen, contact SNRA Area Ranger Sara Baldwin at 727-5000, Sawtooth National Forest Supervisor Jane Kollmeyer at (208) 737-3200, or our congressional representatives.
Surely, if we can spend millions of dollars on the infrastructure of Iraq and Afghanistan, there should be a source of funding somewhere for toilets on Galena!