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In a March 18 address to the Salmon City Council, Michelle Tucker of Salmon Valley Stewardship (SVS) and the Salmon Valley Trails Action Plan Committee outlined a history of many meetings and great amounts of research that have brought the community closer to having a trails system between the Lemhi County Fairgrounds and the Shoup Bridge.

Lemhi County contracted SVS to conduct a trail system feasibility study. Tucker said results of numerous public input meetings, grant potential evaluations and logistical studies all pointed to establishing a seal coated pathway along US Highway 93 to the north and south of Salmon.

At this point only three buffer zone mitigation issues along the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) 50 foot right-of-way remain unresolved but are being addressed with the department. The rest of the route has all been researched. ITD has mapped the proposed route to assure deeded rights-of-way are wide enough to accommodate the trail and all property deeds have been researched and verified. Tucker said the collected data has been shared with Lemhi County and is of great value to the county records system.

The Bureau of Land Management and Lemhi County successfully applied to the Federal Lands Access Program (FLAP) for money to fund the trails study. The first half of the money has facilitated research into five potential trail sites which included a river trail, a Carmen Creek to Discovery Hill trail and the trail within the Highway 93 ITD right-of-way. Tucker said an application for the second half of the $200,000 grant is due April 6 and if awarded would fund design and engineering costs. She said that after presentation of the feasibility study to the ITD earlier this month things are looking quite promising.

Tucker said the proposed northern trailhead would be the Lemhi County Fairgrounds. The route would extend from there to Island Park. Yet to be decided is at what point the path will cross to the east side of Highway 93. The Lemhi County Fair Board has offered property for a vault toilet and parking area.

The southern trailhead would be at Kidís Creek Pond and end at the Shoup Bridge Campground. It would run along the west side of the highway to remove any potential conflict with the current motorized vehicle and horse traffic using the east side.

She said the BLM is an active partner in the trail project and is looking at ways to expand the Shoup Bridge Campground parking area. Tucker asked the council to start considering the best way to direct bicycle traffic through town.

In answer to council questions about long range maintenance of the nine mile trail, Rachel Layman of SVS said public/private partnerships are often established as well as a yearly built-in set-aside of monies for trail emergencies and maintenance costs. The Youth Employment Program has expressed interest in the routine maintenance and Lemhi County has agreed to enter into a maintenance agreement with ITD. The city would have to come up with its own maintenance agreement for the part of trail that passes through town. She said in general this sort of trail only needs to be resurfaced about every ten years.

The Trails Action Plan has been included in the Lemhi County Master Transportation Plan and it is hoped the city will incorporate it into its Master Transportation Plan.
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