Friday, August 21, 2009

Hailey chamber asks for campground

BLM official explores site possibilities

Express Staff Writer

Hailey officials are searching for a place to build a campground in or around the city. One potential location north of Albertsonís would require an easement by the Life Church of Hailey.

Hailey Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jim Spinelli hopes recreational vehicles and tent campers will soon have a place to spend the night in or around Hailey. City and county officials are behind the idea, but have yet to find a suitable location.

"We have numerous requests every day for campsites, but we always have to send them north. That is unfortunate," said Spinelli, who thinks a campground would bring revenues and a useful amenity to the city.

Spinelli said one possible location is Lion's Park just across the Big Wood River on Croy Creek Road. Portions of that city property are used as a softball field. The property also provides snow storage in winter.

Mayor Rick Davis said at a recent Hailey City Council meeting that he is behind the idea of a campground, but has no location in mind.

"It would stay full year-round," Davis said.

At the request of chamber Assistant Director Anna Svidgal, U.S. Bureau of Land Management Outdoor Recreation Planner John Kurtz studied maps and toured Quigley Canyon and Croy Canyon with County Commissioner Tom Bowman recently, looking for prospective campground sites.

They searched 10 miles into Croy Canyon and Quigley Canyon and failed to find a suitable spot, despite the fact that Hailey is surrounded by BLM land.

"The problem is that BLM land does not start until halfway up the hillsides in most places," Kurtz said.

He said the group found only small patches of BLM land accessible from roads, in Colorado Gulch and on Quigley Road.

"There were nooks and crannies here and there, but no place to construct anything," he said.

Yet Kurtz said one landlocked, 10-acre parcel of BLM land has potential. It sits on the Big Wood River north of Albertson's grocery store adjacent to property belonging to the Life Church. He said he plans to tour the property soon to judge its condition, but knows already that an easement would have to be granted from the property owners.

"The stars would have to align for that to happen," said Kurtz, who said he knows of many other places in the Wood River Valley where property owners have allowed access to BLM lands across their property.

"People up there don't know how much grace they have been allowed by property owners," he said.

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