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SVS PROJECT UPDATE 1-25-16 LMS

On Monday January 25, Gina Knudson of Salmon Valley Stewardship (SVS) brought the Lemhi County Commissioners and the County Road and Bridge Supervisor up to date on projects in which SVS is involved.

Supervisor Kerrie Cheney asked who was going to be responsible for maintenance of the multipurpose trail along Highway 93 South which is set to begin construction in 2017. Knudson told him it was never the intention of the Salmon Valley Trails project for the county to foot the maintenance bill and there is a firm understanding the county will not be doing that. She said the Youth Employment Program is interested in getting into the trails maintenance business and the Salmon Valley Trails Committee has committed to begin raising money to fund the maintenance costs projected in the Trails Feasibility Study.

The trail is slated for completion in 2018. Knudson said the Federal Highway Administration will be providing the funding to build the trail and that an agreement with the county for the administration to be working here needs to be in place. As soon as that agreement is signed by both parties any monies raised from that time on by the Trails Committee will be counted as matching funds. She said community public/private partnerships have a good track record of stepping forward to make such things happen.

She said snow removal from the trail has never been part of the plan and in fact would probably not be necessary since some residents would want to use the trail for cross country skiing. Since the trail will only have light weight traffic, it is thought that with a properly installed road bed the 10 foot wide pathway will not need repair for ten years.

As to other SVS projects Knudson said they will be involved with informing the community about the importance of the upcoming Forest Plan Revision. She said information is vital to achieve a balanced community approach. Even though the Forest Plan Revision process is only just starting Knudson said it takes time to make everyone aware of the need to be involved so SVS is beginning now to schedule informational webinars and meetings.

The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has funding available for forest restoration/fuels reduction projects on private lands. Knudson said the program is getting a slow start with only two landowners participating. She said the local Forest Restoration Group began through the energy from the countyís Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) and in view of the funding opportunity she would like to see the plan re-energized.

County Wildland Urban Interface Coordinator Karin Drnjevic recounted talking with many landowners about the funding and giving them contact information. She said it is up to the individual property owner to pursue the funding opportunity. She commented that information about county programs and funding is not being passed on to property owners by other entities such as the Forest Restoration Group.

Commissioner John Jakovac said itís possible the county Community Wildfire Protection Plan has been lacking as far as coordinating efforts with private land owners when agencies are conducting projects adjacent to private holdings. Drnjevic said there has not been a lack of communication between private property owners and the Forest Service but there is a problem with the agency leaving her office out of the informational loop. She added that the last CWPP meeting was attended by all the local agencies.

Commissioner Rick Snyder recommended providing the NRCS private property funding information at the quarterly Emergency Services Council meetings which include numerous officials and fire chiefs from throughout the county.

Knudson said as a way of spreading the word, the available funding information updates could also become part of the Forest Restoration Groupís meeting agenda. She said her concern is that not enough people are taking advantage of the NRCS program on the Upper North Fork to make it economically as beneficial to the community as it could be. She said it would behoove everyone to make that project a success.

In closing her update Knudson said that Idaho Health and Welfare Department Food Protection Program Manager Patrick Guzzle will be here on February 10 for an all-day food safety training seminar. She said the agenda includes every type of food preparation from restaurants to school lunches to preparing foods for a Farmerís Market. More information can be obtained by emailing info@salmonvalley.org


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