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The Salmon City Council has agreed to support an application to officially name the town of Salmon as a Gateway Community for the Continental Divide Trail (CDT). The decision came after a presentation by Rachel Layman of Salmon Valley Stewardship on behalf of the Salmon Valley Trails Committee.

She said the city’s becoming a co-applicant for the designation of a Gateway Community will be a great asset to the town in that it would spotlight Salmon as a supply stop along the historic trail.

Steve Adams, Executive Director of the Youth Employment Program (YEP), said the program has become very involved with developing a local trails system and that city support for becoming a Gateway Community would showcase a community commitment to a trail that is a national treasure. He said it would give Salmon a chance to highlight what this community has to offer to the people who come here for the CDT.

Councilman Neal James questioned what impacts promoting the trail would have on adjacent lands, specifically the lands owned by ranchers and areas used by woodcutters.

Adams said he has not seen any impacts to ranches but if there were any they would be addressed. He pointed out that this is not a case of creating a new trail but maintaining one that already exists.

He said in his experience, one question asked when funding applications for trail projects are made to the Regional Advisory Committee (RAC), is whether or not a National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) study is needed for the project and the answer is ‘no’ since trails are considered infrastructure and trails are pre-existing and exempt. He explained that in the past YEP has applied for RAC monies to improve the Carman Creek Trail. The application was unsuccessful but there are plans to resubmit the request. Adams said such a trail improvement project would include an educational component to alert users about western trail etiquette such as the importance of closing gates.

Councilman Rob Jackson said he has seen hints on web sites about creation of more Roadless Areas and according to him there is a big push for more wilderness designations along the Lemhi Valley. He said if that is the case he would not support the Gateway application.

Salmon resident Max Lohmeyer said the group doesn’t politically advocate for or against wilderness, its focus is just about completing the Mexico to Canada Trail. He pointed out a wilderness designation decision is in the hands of the Forest Service and since the agency is entering a new planning process this would be a good time to address the issue but for now, the group’s emphasis is all about the CDT.

The vote for city support of the Gateway Community application was unanimous.

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