Dedication of the Boulder Creek Trail in the Fulton Natural Area … definitely one of our highlights over the last 10 years!
I think it’s fair to say that the new Master Plan for Valley County Pathways was a hit with the Valley County Planning & Zoning Commission in March. The commissioners voted unanimously to move it forward to the Valley County Commission for adoption in May.
“I’d really like to thank the Pathways group for putting this plan together,” said Ed Allen, a McCall-based member of Valley County P&Z. “It’s not every day that we have a group that brings us a plan like this. It’s really quite comprehensive. It will be an important tool that can be used for the future planning and development of pathways in our valley.”
“I think it’s really awesome,” added P&Z Commissioner Johanna Defoort.
The Star News in McCall covered the story, printed on the front page of the March 16 issue.
If adopted by the Valley County Commission, the newly updated 37-page Master Plan would be incorporated into the Valley County Comprehensive Plan, a document that guides the future planning and development of the county. The previous Master Plan was adopted by Valley County government in 2005. The plan also is strengthened by the latest pathway plans developed by the Cities of McCall, Donnelly and Cascade, and it also embraces the North Fork Payette River online Water Trails recreation guide. A new 2-inch binder contains all of the plans in living color, including all the maps.
“I think the plan is going to be an excellent document for the county and the cities to use moving forward,” said Steve Stuebner, vice president of the VCP board of directors, who presented the new Master Plan to the P&Z Commission.
The plan’s vision has stood the test of time, Stuebner said. The Vision Statement of VCP is as follows:
A north-south pathway system in Long Valley would seek to connect the communities of McCall, Donnelly, Lake Fork and Cascade, complete a pathway around Payette Lake, and establish a pathway corridor around Lake Cascade. To the maximum extent possible, the Valley County Pathway System would connect valley trails to community and neighborhood pathway networks, tourism amenities and services, parks, schools, natural areas, and national forest roads and trails.
In our update, the vision now includes linking to Adams County, New Meadows and the Weiser River Trail.
Stuebner pointed out a long list of accomplishments that have occurred since 2005 by VCP and partner organizations, including:
- Creation of VCP web site, brochures, T-shirts and bonafide non-profit 501 (c) 3 organization. Valleycountypathways.org
- Extension of the Crown Point Trail by ¼ mile in each direction through a donation of real property from the Putman Family to Valley County Pathways in 2006.
- Creation of the North Valley Trail from River Ranch to Heinrich Lane via property donations and easements. The trail opened in 2007 and new pieces have been added since that time.
- Acquisition of multiple easements on the old Railroad Right of Way from the Idaho Power Company from McCall to Donnelly.
- Creation of the Strand in Cascade, a 2-mile trail that runs along the North Fork of the Payette River from the south bridge to the Water’s Edge RV park. The trail also ties into pathways and observation decks at Kelly’s Whitewater Park on the North Fork Payette River, and it parallels The Strand Water Trail. Special thanks go to Dwight Jividen for development of The Strand and to the Marc Pickard family for the beautiful pathways, green space and observation areas next to the whitewater park.
- Creation of the Boulder Creek Trail in Donnelly through the donation of property by Hugh and Georgia Ann Fulton and a substantial grant from the Boise National Forest Resource Advisory Council (RAC). The trail opened in 2012.
- Linking up groomed cross-country ski trails from the Activity Barn to the North Valley Trail for xc skiing, snowshoeing and fat biking, working with Brundage Mountain Resort. The new xc trails at the Activity Barn are a substantial improvement to the overall mileage and diversity of the winter trail system.
- Improved highway signage pointing out pathway trailheads to motorists and tourists visiting the valley.
- Creating a new Master Plan and Master Plan map, outlining existing and proposed pathway corridors along with xc ski trails, water trails and key public trailheads in Valley County and Adams County.
- Working to expand space for bike lanes on Warren Wagon Road when the Federal Highways Administration plans to repave a 5.5-mile section of the road in 2018.
Cascade High School kids build buck fence along the Crown Point Trail as part of a class project
Milestones accomplished by our partner organizations:
- Substantial update of the McCall Area Pathways Master Plan in 2012.
- Creation of the Donnelly Pathways Master Plan in 2014 with an emphasis on creating pathway corridors that tie together between Donnelly and Lake Cascade.
- Creation of the Cascade Bike and Pedestrian Plan in 2015.
- Development of a new, detached pedestrian pathway from the City of McCall to Bear Basin Road (summer use only at this time).
- Creation of the Payette River Water Trails online story board and detailed guide to 10 water trails in the North Fork Payette River Basin. This product turned out extremely well. See more at http://wcmedc.org/recreation/.
- Creation of a new detached pedestrian pathway along Deinhard Lane between the Ridley’s Shopping Center and Spring Mountain Drive.
- Creation of a new detached pedestrian pathway from River Ranch to Lick Creek Road, and then along Lick Creek Road to Shady Lane.
We will post the executive summary of our new Master Plan and full text of the plan on this web site.
I’d like to hit on a few more high points in our plan.
Highest priority projects for VCP:
- Work on property easements or donations of property along the old Railroad ROW from Lake Fork to Pine Lakes Ranch. In particular, VCP is focusing on working with property owners along the RR ROW between Lake Fork and the city of Donnelly, starting from the south and north ends and moving toward the middle.
- In the interim, develop “Share the Road” or “Bike Route” on Norwood Lane from Lake Fork Road to West Roseberry Road in Donnelly, providing a public road corridor for bicyclists, walkers and trail-runners, tying together the communities of Lake Fork and Donnelly.
- Develop public road corridor connecting Valley County to Adams County and the Weiser River Trail. We have identified the Fish Lake Road and Big Creek Road as the public roads connecting a public corridor between the two counties. These corridors should be signed with “Share the Road” or “Bike Route” signage to show people the way to connect to Adams County and the Weiser River Trail.
- Work on developing a detached pathway or bike lanes from Roseberry Road to Roseberry (aligns with City of Donnelly priority) and on Farm to Market Road from Roseberry to Elo Road, Krahn Lane and Sampson Trail to link Farm to Market to McCall (aligns with city of McCall priority).
- Work on developing a detached pathway on West Mountain Road from Blackhawk to Tamarack Falls.
- Work on developing a detached pathway on West Deinhard Lane to the junction with the existing McCall bike path near Mission Street.
- Continue working on pathway corridor around Payette Lake. New, wider bike lanes will be built on Warren Wagon Road on the west side of the lake in 2018. In the meantime, we recommend applying for grant funds to commission a study of building a detached pathway around the east side of Payette Lake. A study will help understand the different land ownerships and costs involved.
- Work toward more detached bike paths along Lick Creek Road from Shady Lane to East Side Drive. This initiative connects to the goal of building a pathway around Payette Lake.
- Work toward building bike lanes or a detached pathway along Davis Road to Gold Fork Hot Springs, a popular destination.
- Work with the Bureau of Reclamation and the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation to develop pathway corridors around Lake Cascade. A system of priorities should be developed for these potential pathway segments to determine which ones should be focused on in the near term vs. long term.
- Develop detached pathways between the city of Donnelly and Tamarack Falls on West Roseberry Road. The City of Donnelly is working on developing a detached pathway on the south side of West Roseberry Road to Dawn Drive and the city beach as a high-priority.
- Develop a detached pathway along Cabarton Road from the Clear Creek junction to the city of Cascade.
We love the new Master Plan map, shown above, created by Paul Mitchell of Mitchell Geography. It’s great to see how all of the pathways or pathway corridors link up to Forest Service trailheads, state parks, Jug Mountain Ranch, Tamarack Resort, Bear Basin and other points in the valley. The map also delineates the Water Trails. The map was built on a GIS platform. It will be shared with Valley County government so they can fit it into their overall data base and maps.
We want to thank everyone for their support in developing the new Master Plan. We received letters of support from the McCall Parks & Recreation Dept., Donnelly Pathways Member Brett Shepherd, Andrew Mentzer, executive director of the Valley County Economic Development Council, Cascade Lakes Realty and the America’s Best Communities organization in Valley and Adams county.
Please stay in touch and help us get over the final hurdle with the Valley County Commission in early May!
Contact Steve if you have any questions about the plan … Thanks!
Groomed trail on top of the hill at the Activity Barn … beautiful spot!
We wanted to share some good news!
Tom Yergovich, President of Payette River Subdivision #2 in McCall, recently presented a $2,000 check to Andy Olavarria, President of Valley County Pathways, to help cover the costs of grooming the North Valley Trail, a cross-country ski trail that links up to xc trails by the Activity Barn, south of McCall, on Moonridge Drive.
Altogether, there are over 5 miles of xc ski trails in the North Valley Trail/Activity Barn xc ski trail system. The trails are open to xc skiing, snowshoeing and fat biking. The trails are available at no charge. But Valley County Pathways encourages the public to donate to our non-profit organization to help with grooming costs — fuel and operator work time. Contributions help not only with winter maintenance, but also with VCP’s liability insurance and overall expenses.
“We really appreciate the generous donation from the Payette River Subdivision #2,” Olavarria said. “We have been receiving a number of individual contributions, but this kind of donation goes a long ways to cover our groomer operator’s time and expenses for this winter season. We also appreciate our neighbors stepping up to help us take care of a community resource. Many of the residents use our trail system on a regular basis. They enjoy the easy access and health and fitness benefits. ”
Valley County Pathways gives full credit to groomer operator Todd Clouser, who has been diligently working with the Activity Barn to keep this trail maintained this winter. A construction contractor, Todd has done a lot of work on the North Valley Trail over the years for VCP. “We would like to thank Tom and the HOA for this donation and hope to continue this in the years to come,” Olavarria said.
To make a tax-deductible donation to VCP, please visit our website: valleycountypathways.org.
Dan Slanina of Federal Highways in Seattle explains the Warren Wagon Road repaving project to a packed room of concerned citizens at the Payette National Forest headquarters in McCall. Thanks to everyone for showing up!
On Tuesday, Jan. 10, we had a great turnout in McCall for two public meetings about planned improvements to Warren Wagon Road, despite a steady downpour of snow that day in Valley County, and horrible driving conditions in Boise that caused most schools to close.
Even so, people concerned about bicycle and pedestrian safety came to the meetings to encourage Federal Highways officials from Seattle to maximize on the width of bike lanes as much as possible.
Dan Slanina, project manager, gave a presentation about the $11 million project, indicating that Federal Highways understands the priority for bicycle/pedestrian safety and built in 3-foot shoulders on both sides of the road in their latest design. Previously, they had designed a 1-foot shoulder and indicated that wider shoulders would be too expensive.
So BIG KUDOs to FWHA folks for getting the message!
Some basics about the project: It would extend 5.5 miles along Warren Wagon Road from the end of the existing bike lanes, past North Beach, to the junction with Eastside Drive. FHWA plans field work in May to develop a 70% design for the project, at which time they will hold another public meeting. Final design would occur in late fall, and construction is expected to begin in 2018. They expect the project to take 2 years to build.
Existing bike lanes on Warren Wagon Road and in McCall are built to a 4-foot standard, so Slanina said FWHA analyzed the potential cost of going 1 foot wider on both sides of the road. He said that option would essentially double the cost because going any wider would require blasting and cutting away granite rock cliffs next to the mountain along the road. Valley County officials don’t want to go that route. We agree that cutting into the cliffs would not only make the project cost-prohibitive, it would create a long-term maintenance nightmare.
I asked Slanina about the possibility of designing a project that incorporated 4-foot bike lanes where possible – without cutting into the granite cliffs – and going with 3-foot shoulders otherwise. He said FHWA would look at that alternative and see how many linear feet might qualify for a wider shoulder and how much more it might cost. VC Pathways intends to pursue this option with vigor.
Several other people who attended the meeting recommended a similar “compromise” that would further the cause of pedestrian/bike safety and make people more comfortable on a wider shoulder where possible.
A single 6-foot pathway? VC Pathways associate Andy Olavarria asked about combining the two 3-foot shoulders and creating a 6-foot path on one side of the road. Slanina said FHWA could look at that, but he thought that approach had issues … with bicyclists riding the wrong way against traffic, it’d be too narrow for two-way pedestrian traffic (most detached pathways are 8-foot minimum), and there’d be no way to separate the 6-foot lane because motorists still would need a shoulder to pull off the road in the event of an accident or vehicle breakdown.
We talked about using pylons or a raised curb to separate the lane, but both of those options would present issues for snowplows in the winter, according to Valley County road department officials.
Valley County Commissioner Gordon Cruickshank noted that everyone would favor a separate detached pathway, but the limited right of way, constrained by the lake on one side and granite cliffs on the other, isn’t wide enough for a detached pathway. Slanina also had covered that point.
Other suggestions included narrowing the traffic lanes from 11 feet to 10 feet (normal width is 12). FHWA already had narrowed the traffic lanes to 11 feet to provide more shoulder, but if you went to 10-foot lanes, that would require a minimum 25 mph speed limit for the length of the project, said Jeff McFadden, Valley County Road Superintendent. In my mind, the 25 mph speed limit would anger too many people, and create a speed trap.
Cruickshank said a 10-foot lane would be too narrow for trucks pulling trailers, too.
The bottom line: VC Pathways will advocate for 4-foot shoulders where possible and see if that is feasible from a cost perspective. We also will work with FHWA to encourage plenty of signage along the route to make it clear that motorists need to “Share the Road,” and use bicycle stencils on the roadway as well.
People attending the meeting were given forms to fill out to provide their input on the project. If you’d like to send in a comment, please send an email to Dan Slanina Daniel.firstname.lastname@example.org, or Erin Chipps, email@example.com. Please endorse our position in this matter. If you have any other ideas, please let us know!
– Steve Stuebner, Valley County Pathways
By Steve Stuebner
Valley County Pathways encourages Valley County residents and second-home owners to attend public meetings scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 10, in McCall to learn about the planned reconstruction of 5.5 miles of Warren Wagon Road and push for pedestrian safety and bike lanes as part of the project.
There will be an afternoon session from 1-2:30 p.m. on Jan. 10th and an evening session from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Both meetings will be held at the Payette National Forest supervisor’s office, 500 N. Mission Street in McCall.
Federal highway officials and Valley County Road Department officials will be on hand to present information about the project and answer questions.
Valley County Pathways and the Central Idaho Mountain Biking Association (CIMBA) have been promoting that the project include bike lanes of at least 3 feet wide to accommodate pedestrian safety on this popular and busy road that leads to the North Beach unit of Ponderosa State Park and points north in the Payette National Forest.
As it is now, this section of Warren Wagon Road has no shoulder and presents a safety hazard to walkers, runners and cyclists.
Federal highway standards call for a minimum 4-foot width for bike lanes. In the case of the Warren Wagon Road project, the right of way is limited in some areas because of granite cliffs next to the mountain and roadway. We understand that space is limited, and if Federal Highways designed the project to dynamite granite cliffs to make more room, it would drive up the cost to more than $10 million beyond the existing cost, and Valley County would be required to maintain loose and falling rock for years to come.
Previous letter-writing efforts have succeeded in convincing the Federal Highway officials that pedestrian safety and bike lanes are an important part of the project. Thank you for helping with that.
However, we need a strong turnout at these meetings to continue to show support for pedestrian safety and solid bike lanes.
Please spread the word to your friends!
For information about the project, contact Erin Chipps, environmental specialist, firstname.lastname@example.org (360) 619-7637, Dan Slanina, project manager, Daniel.email@example.com (360) 619-7617, Steve Stuebner with VC Pathways, firstname.lastname@example.org, 208-484-0295, or Michelle Reagan with CIMBA, email@example.com.
The North Valley Trail in McCall is groomed and ready for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and fat biking. Dogs are welcome.
You can tie into the trail at the corner of Moonridge Drive and the North Valley Trail or park at the Activity Barn, a great tubing hill south of McCall near Mission Street and Moonridge. The North Valley Trail runs for 3.5 miles south to Heinrich Lane.
The trail is available for free, but donations to Valley County Pathways are encouraged and appreciated to cover the cost of fuel and grooming services.
If you’re snowshoeing or fat biking, be sure to stay to one side of the trail to leave a smooth lane for xc skiers.
A new feature this year is the Activity Barn is providing lift-service at the tubing hill, and they have a 5-kilometer groomed trail that also is open to xc skiing, snowshoeing and fat biking. Dogs are welcome, and there is no trail fee. If you ride the lift, there is a fee for that.
- Steve Stuebner
You may have heard that federal highway officials recently told Valley County and McCall City officials that building shoulders up to 4 feet wide for bikes and pedestrians as part of paving improvements to Warren Wagon Road in 2018 are cost-prohibitive and will be scratched.
We support efforts by the greater McCall community to challenge this decision and respectfully urge federal highway officials to do the right thing for the future of the community.
We need to do this for the following reasons:
- Payette Lake is a prominent tourist attraction and Warren Wagon Road, being the primary access point between McCall and North Beach, is a strategic transportation and recreation corridor. Many cyclists ride around Payette Lake for recreation. We need to encourage people to bike to North Beach as well. A pedestrian pathway for walkers and bikers around the lake could be a destination for many visitors. (2012 McCall Area Pathways Master Plan).
- Bikes lanes on this project would be a logical extension of the current bike paths on Warren Wagon Road that now terminate at the project’s southern end. (2012 McCall Area Pathways Master Plan).
- The McCall area is designated as a Silver-Level Ride Center by the International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA). Warren Wagon Road provides access to a number of trails that earned this designation.
- Mountain biking is a strong component in the recreation economy, providing 6.1 million American jobs, $646 billion in outdoor recreation spending each year, $39.9 billion in federal tax revenue, and $39.7 billion in state/local tax revenue. (Outdoor Industry Association).
- Valley County and Adams county communities currently are working on a final application for America’s Best Communities, with $3 million at stake. Building more pathways and connecting existing pathways in our communities are among the top 5 priorities for economic revitalization.
- There are six businesses in the McCall, Idaho, area that rely on bicycle sales and rentals. These businesses employ about 50 people.
Please write the regional director of federal highways, Ms. Sandra Otto, Division Director, Western Federal Lands Highway Division, and urge her to support an appropriate budget for the Warren Wagon Road improvements. (See sample letter) Be sure to copy U.S. Senator Mike Crapo, and any other congressional representatives that you’d like to contact as well.
I would love to see McCall locals, second-home owners and full-time homeowners in Valley County get involved. We need the support of Idaho CEO’s who have second homes in Valley County. We need help from everyone who can see the vibrant future of McCall and Payette Lake. Please get involved and support this effort. Thank you!
Valley County Pathways
By Steve Stuebner
Vice President, VC Pathways
Steve and Cindy Jones enjoy the wetlands pond next to the North Valley Rail-Trail.
Community leaders in Cascade, Donnelly, McCall and New Meadows have been working together over the last year or so to create a winning community revitalization plan and strategy in the America’s Best Communities national competition.
Recently, the newly branded “West Central Mountains” region — “Idaho’s Adventure Corridor” — was named one of eight finalists in the ABC competition, also winning a $100,000 cash prize to work on its 21-point plan to enhance and revitalize our communities. At stake is a $3 million
“Collectively, we believe in a future where the best of what we enjoy today is carefully blended with year-round jobs, increased prosperity, and endless opportunity,” Valley County/Meadows Valley community leaders wrote in their visionary plan. “Our intent is not to reinvent our area but to effectively build upon what makes our community so desirable. We have the essential ingredients, momentum, determination and vision to become America’s Best Community.”
We say “bravo!” to that!
Now, the West Central Mountains ABC team is embarking on a number of initiatives to fulfill the vision of their 21-point plan. These initiatives include:
- Creating new jobs.
- Improving housing options for low-income families.
- Enhancing streets, highways and transportation infrastructure.
- Improving education, cultural opportunities and recreational opportunities.
- Enhancing health and wellness.
Under the category of enhancing recreation opportunities, a top priority is to update the Master Plan for Valley County Pathways to include a public pathway corridor connecting from northwest McCall to New Meadows. If this corridor could be developed, it’d be possible to connect Valley County trails to the 84-mile Weiser River Trail. That’d be huge!
At the same time, VCP will incorporate the updated pathways plans that have been completed in Cascade, Donnelly and McCall, so we can organize all of our pathway visions into one planning document. This goal dovetails with the strategy of the West Central Mountains ABC plan.
Another top priority is to create a new recreation district in the northern half of Valley County that could raise sufficient funds on an annual basis to build new recreation facilities and develop and maintain new trail systems for hiking, biking and motorized activities.
Efforts to create the West Central Mountains Park and Recreation District are under way. The boundaries for the recreation district would be the same as the McCall-Donnelly School District. The first step is to gather enough signatures of local voters to put a recreation district on the November ballot. Backers have selected a .0006 tax levi that would raise approximately $1.8 million per year. The tax impact for property with $100,000 in assessed value would be $60 per year.
All of us at Valley County Pathways think the creation of a recreation district is a GREAT idea — to generate enough funds on an annual basis to actually create new recreational assets and amenities in our communities, and do a better job of maintaining what we have. The recreation district concept is also backed by the ABC campaign, the Valley County Economic Development Council and Valley County Commissioners.
Personally, I have had the most hands-on experience with Blaine County Recreation District, which provides broad-based recreation in the Wood River Valley for all ages and diverse recreation programs. BCRD was responsible for paving the Wood River bike path that extends from Ketchum to Bellevue. It operates a wonderful world-class cross-country ski trail system, and oodles of other recreation programs.
The bottom line, in my view, is if you create a stable source of income to maintain and enhance recreation facilities, you have a long-term sustainable recreation program. That’s what we need in Valley County/Meadows Valley.
Please stop by the Idaho First Bank next to Ridleys to sign a petition to get the recreation district on the ballot or look for petition sheets at local recreation stores, businesses and real estate offices.
FYI: The leaders of the recreation district campaign are Barrett Lamm, a CPA with Lamm CPA, firstname.lastname@example.org, Joey Pietri, an athletic trainer at Legend Crossfit, email@example.com or Sherry Maupin, VP Branch Manager, Idaho First Bank in McCall.
Also FYI: Here’s a link to the Economic Development Strategy for the West Central Mountains region.
Thanks to our volunteer groomer, Todd Clouser, many people have been enjoying cross-country skiing, snowshoeing or snow biking on the North Valley Trail this winter.
It’s great to see that McCall locals and weekend visitors are discovering the trail. After I posted some pictures on the Valley County Pathways Facebook page, people were like, “Wow, that looks awesome! Where is it? What’s the trail fee?”
The North Valley Trail can be accessed from River Ranch, the Activity Barn parking lot or at the south end of the trail by Heinrich Lane, if you happen to live in that area.
The trail runs for about 3.5 miles out and back, or 7 miles total — just about perfect for a 1.5-hour outing. There is a set xc ski track and a groomed surface plenty wide enough for skate skiing. The trail is mostly flat, with a couple of hills here and there. The trail is perfectly suited for beginners on up.
We are not charging a fee for using the North Valley Trail, but we’d love to receive donations to cover our grooming costs. Click here to make a donation … Thank you!
Valley County Pathways recently completed a land bridge project on the North Valley Trail near the Activity Barn. The new bridge now allows the public to stay on the detached pathway through the quarter mile section rather than being detoured to Moonridge Dr. It’s a fantastic addition to the North Valley Trail, so please check it out!
We had a wonderful trail-dedication event on the Boulder Creek Trail in the newly created Fulton Natural Area this morning in Donnelly … A 3rd grade and 5th grade class from Donnelly Elementary came to the festivities, and Hugh and Georgia Ann Fulton, the people who donated the land for the project, were there along with Hugh’s 90-something parents, Valley County Commissioner Gordon Cruickshank, Tom Crawford from the Forest Service, Donnelly City officials and more! Thanks to everyone who made this project a success!
The Boulder Creek Trail is more than a trail … it’s an outdoor classroom for Donnelly Elementary kids and the whole community.