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BLM Okays Hiking and Biking Trails, EBike Use
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Mountain bikers will soon be able to enjoy more trails near Bellevue, Hailey, Ketchum and Sun Valley, thanks to the approval of 81 miles of new trails. COURTESY: BLM
 
 
Tuesday, March 2, 2021
 

BY KAREN BOSSICK

Increased opportunities for hiking, mountain biking, camping and other types of outdoor recreation in the Wood River Valley and a small portion of Camas County have been given the green light with the release of a decision by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Shoshone Field Office.

The Decision Record for the Wood River Valley Recreation and Access Environmental Assessment authorizes construction of 81 miles of new trails, seven new trailheads and 21 new designated dispersed campsites, primarily in the Kelly and Quigley Gulches and Cove Creek.

It also changes existing trail designations on some trails in Croy Creek to allow the use of EBikes.

“We’ve always needed more opportunities for recreation in the valley and now even more so with the increased use we saw this past year,” said John Kurtz, outdoor recreation planner in the Shoshone office. “The downside is that it will take a few years to build all these trails. The upside is that if we have a cold winter with a lot of snow we will be able to be more responsive to address the protection of wildlife.”

The BLM will construct the new trails, trailheads and dispersed campsites over the next several years as funding and other resources allow.  

 Kurtz said the BLM hopes to begin construction in Fall 2021 on 5.5 miles of trail in Slaughterhouse Canyon east of Bellevue. The trail would be similar to that the Blaine County Recreation District built in Quigley Canyon with a Toe of the Hill-style trail paralleling the road coupled with a few short climbs, 2.5 loops and connection to Muldoon Canyon.

“It’s a manageable start,” said Kurtz. “Bellevue is the only community that doesn’t have a trail close in so we thought we would cater to Bellevue first. We’re also hoping that a trail system further south can be available for use early in the spring.”

The next project, he said, would probably tie together trails in Quigley Canyon to Hailey’s Woodside neighborhood.

The electric bike redesignation will be the first change people see. Class 1, 2 and 3 EBikes will be allowed on Two Dog, Punchline, Centerline and Nadya’s trails in the Croy Canyon trail system near Rotarun Ski Area.

Class 1 EBikes have a maximum speed of 20 miles per hour and Class 3 up to 28 miles per hour. Riders need to pedal both to get an assist. Class 2 EBikes have a maximum speed of 20 mph, which can be reached without pedaling. But pedals are required for them to be allowed on the trails.

Kurtz said those who submitted comments leading to the decision stressed the need to find a balance between providing recreational opportunities and protecting the environment and wildlife.

“A lot of people want to see more development. Others want to see even more development,” he said.

The decision modifies existing seasonal off-highway vehicle (OHV) use restrictions areas. The restrictions would be implemented annually from Jan. 1 to April 30 and are expanded to include more of the urban interface areas and important wildlife corridors throughout the Wood River Valley.

The decision allows the BLM to implement restrictions to protect wintering wildlife only when conditions warrant and only in areas where animals are congregating. This may include any human activity impacting deer and elk between January and April when they are most vulnerable.

“Public lands, recreation and wildlife are vitally important to Wood River Valley residents and visitors— their input has been integral to this process for several years,” said Codie Martin, Shoshone field manager. “While it is challenging to completely satisfy the broad spectrum of requests, we are confident that this decision reflects a good compromise. It balances the recreational access desires of the local community while mitigating threats to other coexisting resources of concern such as wildlife, wilderness characteristics and cultural resources.”  

 The BLM received 177 comments by email, letters and through the BLM ePlanning website.

“We want to acknowledge and appreciate everyone who’s been involved. I’m glad the public stuck with us through the process—all that helped us figure this out,” said Kurtz. “Now we’re looking forward to working with the municipalities and user groups on the next steps.”

The Decision Record, EA, maps and supporting documents, titled DOI-BLM-ID-T030-2020-0015-EA, can be viewed on the BLM NEPA Register website using Chrome, Edge, Safari or Firefox at https://eplanning.blm.gov/eplanning-ui/home.

 

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