For the week of July 7, 1999  thru July 13, 1999  

New Harriman Trail to be dedicated

Express Staff Writer

l7trailcreek.jpg (9256 bytes)It’s been over 10 years since the Harriman Trail was theoretically conceived by local recreation advocates, but it’s finally shaping up.

Official dedication of the first completed trail section, which stretches from Prairie Creek to Galena Lodge over six miles of the Big Wood River corridor north of Ketchum, is scheduled for Saturday afternoon at Galena Lodge. Guided biking tours, nature walks and a preview of amenity sites—including bathrooms, benches and interpretive facilities—will be offered that afternoon.

Commemoration and celebration will begin at 1 p.m. with a ribbon cutting ceremony. Bethine Church and Bob Hayes of the Sawtooth Society will be on hand to show support for the project. Also, Undersecretary of Agriculture Jim Lyons will give a speech.

The conceptual seed of a trail that would link Ketchum with Galena Lodge was planted by a handful of local recreation advocates in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Harriman trail project coordinator Cathy Baer said. The concept was brought to fruition, in part, due to contributions from the Harriman Family Foundation and the Theresa Heinz Foundation, along with much appreciated local support.

The entire 18-mile project is expected to cost $1.5 million by its completion.

The Harriman Master Plan, created by a partnership between the Sawtooth National Recreation Area and the Blaine County Recreation District, incorporates a vision that includes benches, interpretive sites, bridges and other elements designed to complement the area’s natural beauty, Baer said.

Interpretive facilities planned include a mountain goat viewing and information area near Prairie Creek, a mining history information area and a wetlands and riparian ecosystem information area.

Last fall, the northern section of trail was in a raw, post-construction state, but nature is quickly reclaiming the edges of the completed section, Baer pointed out.

The fourteen-foot-wide gravel trail, designed to accommodate a cross-country ski trail groomer in winter, allows for vegetation to grow through it. As native plants and "forest litter" reclaim the edges over the coming years, the trail profile will soften and assume the appearance of a winding path, Baer said.

Construction on the remaining 12 miles will continue this summer, with individual sections opening to the public upon the projected completion date in the summer of 2000.

Public sponsorship and adoption of the trail is key to its future success, Baer said. To help maintain the trail, the Blaine County Recreation District is launching a "trail tender" program, a major component of which is the Adopt-a-Trail program.

Organizations, families and businesses can adopt a section of the trail as a community service project to help keep the trail in top quality. The Harriman’s first adopt-a-trail sponsor is Power Engineers of Hailey, which pledged to monitor the structures and environmental quality along the entire trail length.

Also, over the coming months, the recreation district will host a series of volunteer work days.

The first work day was held June 5 to re-seed the northern six-mile section.

Twenty people helped Bill McDorman of High Altitude Gardens seed a section of the trail. McDorman designed the seed mix to maintain the integrity of local plant communities along the trail.


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