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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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Copyright © 2002 Express Publishing Inc.
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For the week of April 17 - 23, 2002


Hailey greenway project set to start

Earth Day cleanup

To celebrate the kick-off of the Hailey greenway project and to mark Earth Day, the Wood River Land Trust is leading a trash cleanup effort at Lionís Park on Saturday, April 20, from 10 a.m. to noon.

After the cleanup, Smokey Mountain Pizza and Albertsonís will provide lunch. Garbage bags and means for disposal will be provided. The land trust asks only that volunteers bring their own gloves.

The goals of the restoration project include improving water quality of the Big Wood River, making river access easier and safer for residents, decommissioning Haileyís old sewer plant, restoring wetlands, improving aquatic habitat and creating a pond for recreation and flood control.

Express Staff Writer

Lionís Park, Heagle Park and the Big Wood River in Hailey are about to receive significant makeovers. And with the planned changes, the first steps toward a potential south-valley green belt will be realized.

This summer, the city of Hailey and the Wood River Land Trust will work to restore natural characteristics to sections of the Big Wood River, which has been managed and channeled for 100 years. The cityís old sewer plant adjacent to Heagle Park will be decommissioned and replaced with a settling pond and wetlands.

The high, unnatural river bank in Lionís Park will be leveled, creating at least the semblance of a natural flood plain. Several stone and log ledges will be installed in the river to give it pool-drop characteristics and improve fish habitat.

"What weíre trying to do here is restore or replicate the natural system," said Scott Boettger, executive director of the Wood River Land Trust. "Thatís the beauty of this. It will reduce maintenance costs and flooding."

The projects are possible this summer because of a $200,000 federal clean water grant channeled through the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality. In the grant application process, Idaho labeled the project its highest priority last year, Boettger said. The entire project should cost about $350,000.

The project is unique in that it provides a jumping-off point toward preserving a potential river-side green belt between Hailey and Bellevue. Lionís Park and Heagle Park are about a mile and a half from one another, and the Land Trust owns a parcel in between the parks. In addition, Idaho owns a sizable portion of the river bottom.

Only two private properties block the area from becoming the first river-front mile of what ultimately could be a four-mile-long green belt between the valleyís two southern cities.

"We want this to be a starting point," Boettger said. "We want to continue this operation, both north and south, for resource protection. The idea is to continue protection of the river, not just achieve stand-alone areas."

This summerís work will consist of two phases.

One will consist of grading the stream bank on the west side of the river in Lionís Park and adding the ledges to slow stream flows and create fish habitat.

More than 5,000 cubic yards of material will be removed from the Lionís Park stream bank, tapering it 80 to 90 feet from the river bank. Existing plants will be preserved, and native vegetation will be planted.

The other project will involve construction of a holding pond just south of Heagle Park, partially on the site of the old sewage treatment plant. The one-acre pond will help slow river flows and create a wetlands.

The holding pond will be designed to function similarly to the Hulen Meadows pond north of Ketchum.

Hailey Public Works Manager Ray Hyde said decommissioning of the sewage plant has already begun, but wonít be kicked into high gear until mid-June. Hyde said he hopes the entire project to be concluded by October.

"I think itís going to be a huge benefit, not only to the county, but itís also going to help some of the spring flooding problems," Hyde said.

Bruce Lium, director of the American Water Resources Co., which will help with the project, summarized: "This project is a wonderful benefit to the river system. We will provide resting areas for fish, prevent erosion along the banks and restore the natural habitat to benefit wildlife."

Boettger pointed out that the river originally meandered through the Hailey-area corridor, but was channeled using a berm on the east side of the river to protect property investments in the early 1900s. The city of Hailey has used Lionís Park as a fill area for debris from construction sites, further channeling the river.

"We obviously canít take the berms out and put the meanders back in," Boettger said. "But we want to get it as natural as possible."


The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.