For the week of June 17 thru June 23, 1998  

Headline: Rec Fee funds are staying here

SNRA and Ketchum RD have begun using fees for local projects


By KATHRYN BEAUMONT
Express Staff Writer

While the debate over recreational user fees rages on in coffee shops and letters-to-the editor pages, the Sawtooth National Recreation Area and the Ketchum Ranger District have begun to fund trail maintenance and other projects with the fee money.

From July 1, 1997 to May 31, 1998, the SNRA and the Ketchum Ranger District collected a total of $60,960 in recreational user pass fees. Seven SNRA projects and six Ketchum Ranger District projects have been approved using this money. Carol Cole, recreation pass coordinator for the SNRA, said as more money comes in from this year’s sales, more projects will be approved.

Based on comment cards from the 711 day passes and the 3,828 annual passes sold from July 1 to September 30, 1997, user fee money is being spent on projects designated by the users themselves.

Trail maintenance, habitat restoration, forest service priorities, road maintenance, undeveloped campsites, toilets and increased operation of visitor centers topped the list of how users felt the money should be spent.

The SNRA is allocating $10,000 in recreational pass fees to its $120,000 trail maintenance program, which 31 percent of the users designated as a funding priority.

The SNRA trail maintenance project is also funded by donations from other private donations, Regional Special Project Enhancement funds and appropriated budgets for recreation and wilderness. The Fee Demo money, Cannady points out, will be used to cover salary costs and on-the-ground expenses the appropriated funds do not cover.

Cannady said the trails maintained by the SNRA will include some of the area’s most popular routes, including the Alice-Toxaway Loop, Hell Roaring Trail, Redfish Creek Trails, Fishhook Creek, Iron Creek, Stanley Lake Creek, Baron Creek, North Fork Baron Creek, and Trail Creek, and Fourth of July Creek.

The SNRA has also designated recreational fees to extend the hours of its visitor center north of Ketchum and in Stanley, as well as to finance winter trail maintenance, elk winter closure signs, wilderness/back country patrols during hunting season, a wilderness information specialist and staffing for a Bowery Station guard.

The Ketchum Ranger District will fund 40 percent of its 220-mile trail maintenance program with user-fees, Ketchum Ranger Kurt Nelson said, by funding the salaries of two of its five-person trail crew.

In addition to trail maintenance, the Ketchum Ranger District will use the recreation fees to install a $10,000 outhouse for the 30,000 or so visitors who use the popular Adam’s Gulch area. The district also will increase the parking at the Baker Creek trailhead and identify 25 designated campsites at Deer Creek.

Notebooks detailing with each proposal and its use of recreation fee money are available at both SNRA Headquarters and the Ketchum Ranger Station.

 

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