Friday, August 3, 2012

New trails planned for south county

Paths would connect Quigley, Slaughterhouse canyons

Express Staff Writer

The Bellevue City Council took a first look Thursday, July 26, at a map of about 25 miles of motorized and non-motorized trails that could be built in the hills between Slaughterhouse Canyon east of town and Quigley Canyon, east of Hailey.

The city of Bellevue and private landowners would have to provide easements or land to develop trailheads in Slaughterhouse Canyon to connect to the proposed trails, which would be developed on BLM-managed land between Bellevue and Hailey, said Bellevue Planning Director Craig Eckles.

"These are only ideas on a map at this point," Eckles said.

John Kurtz, outdoor recreation planner at the BLM's Shoshone Field Office, worked with Greg Martin, Blaine County Recreation District Wood River Valley trails coordinator, to design the map.

Kurtz said the proposed trails are part of the BLM's North Highway 20 Travel Plan, which encompasses potential road and trail development and closures north of U.S. Highway 20 from Craters of the Moon near Carey to Hill City west of Fairfield.

"We're looking at an alternative in the travel plan that could tie together the Quigley and Slaughterhouse drainages," Kurtz said. "This alternative is in response to sage-grouse issues."

Kurtz said the area is not in sage grouse habitat, as are many miles of previously proposed trails in Croy Canyon and Rock Creek, west of Hailey.

During the past three years, the BLM, working in coordination with the Blaine County Recreation District, developed about 30 miles of hiking and mountain biking trails in Croy Canyon. The trails have become very popular.

"The trails use west of Hailey is unbelievable," Kurtz said. "There are upwards of 50 people per day on them, and the trails are being treated well."

Kurtz said he believes there is "big demand" for additional trails in the south Wood River Valley, including Bellevue.

"One of the big reasons we're doing this travel plan is to address the recreational demand and reduce impacts on natural resources," he said.

Tony Evans:

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