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.
We put up the trail signs for the Boulder Creek Trail Saturday in the Fulton Natural Area in preparation for a trail-dedication on Friday, Sept. 21 at 10 a.m. The public is invited and welcome to attend. We will thank property owners Hugh and Georgia Ann Fulton and our many project partners for making this project a great success. See you there!
We wanted to share a new color map of Kelly’s Whitewater Park and the surrounding area in Cascade, Idaho.
Open Kelly’s Whitewater Park Area Map
The map shows the connection between Kelly’s Whitewater Park (KWP) and The Strand, a 2.5 mile walking/bicycling path, a Valley County Pathways project, along the North Fork of the Payette River. You can access The Strand by Fischer Pond Park next to the south Hwy 55 bridge in Cascade, and the pathway runs north to the RV parks at the north end of town. The KWP beau
tiful Welcome Center has an indoor amphitheatre that overlooks the water features, a museum with constantly changing local history, and the most elegant public restrooms in Valley County. The Info Depot is full of information for the public. The Depot is a collaborative effort between KWP, Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation and Cascade Chamber of Commerce.
Kelly’s Whitewater Park is rapidly growing an excellent reputation. The National Kayak Freestyle Championships were held at the park in early July, with more than 5,000 spectators and many of the nation’s best freestyle kayakers. The whitewater park is available for all paddlers, kayakers, tubers and rafters. And it’s all free. Kelly’s Kayak School operates in the summer, check it out at kwpid.com.
Come visit and check out the statues of Kelly Brennan, for whom the park is named, and John Borbonus, an American soldier killed in Iraq.
KWP is accessed via Hwy 55, next to the RR Crossing in Cascade. We hope to see you soon! (See Google Map below.)
– Dwight Jividen, Valley County Pathways board member in Cascade
Here’s a nice article about the Boulder Creek project from our friends at Rails to Trails! Trail will be open this summer, and it’s got a great educational component for the Donnelly Elementary School kids. Read the full article here.
By Steve Stuebner
Vice President, Valley County Pathways
Our new 1/4-mile Boulder Creek Trail in Donnelly is moving closer to completion after a group of 16 volunteers built a 255-foot boardwalk in a wetland adjacent to the creek over the weekend of Nov. 5-6.
“We had a great group of people come out to help us, including several professional builders, and we built the whole boardwalk in two days of hard work,” said Andy Olavarria, Valley County Pathways president.
We want to thank ProBuild in McCall for assisting with lumber and hardware purchases, and Tim Swanson of Swanson Construction and Art Troutner of Troutner Construction for leading the boardwalk construction project.
Thanks to the rest of our volunteer work crew: Damon Yerkes, VC Pathways Treasurer, Andy Olavarria, VCP President, Steve Stuebner, Wendy Wilson, Lynn Swanson, Opie Jahn, Joel Chaudoir, Leslie Freeman (champion grand-writer), Bill Zuehl, Greg Lawley, Victoria McCarthy, Liam McCarthy, Katie McCarthy, Mike Murphy and at least three dogs.
Hand rails will be installed on the boardwalk, the area will be landscaped, and trail signs will be put up next spring prior to an official grand opening for the non-motorized trail.
The whole project was made possible by a generous property donation by Hugh L. and Georgia Ann Fulton of Donnelly and Melba, who donated seven acres of wetlands to the City of Donnelly and a pathways easement to Valley County Pathways. The wetlands are now called the Fulton Natural Area.
The Boulder Creek Trail is the first segment of a pathway planned around the edges of the community of Donnelly. Pathways officials vow to work on easements with property owners in the vicinity to add more sections to the trail.
Three grants totaling $83,558 provided funding to build the pathway, conduct streamside restoration activities along Boulder Creek and create an outdoor classroom near the Donnelly Elementary School.
Students at Donnelly Elementary have assisted with bank-stabilization work, and they’ve built and installed interpretive signs next to the Boulder Creek Trail so the general public can learn more about the nature area. Idaho Fish and Game volunteers have planted about 500 shrubs next to the creek to help stabilize the stream bank. Students also are raising trout fingerlings to release into the stream.
“The Boulder Creek project is an outstanding example of how we can blend environmental education and restoration work with the development of recreation pathways for the community to enjoy,” Olavarria said. “We have to thank Leslie Freeman and Damon Yerkes for pulling together a very innovative and exciting project that will have lasting benefits for students and the community.”
Grant funds came from the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation, the Forest Service Resource Advisory Committee and the Wittenburger Foundation. A long list of partners are contributing to the project, including Trout Unlimited, Central Idaho Recreation Coalition, U.S. Forest Service, McCall Outdoor Science School and the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality.
Valley County Pathways needs volunteers for a trail work day on Saturday, Nov. 5 and Sunday, Nov. 6.
Start time: 9 a.m. at the Donnelly Elementary School on E. Roseberry Road in Donnelly.
Tools needed: There is no power on site, so we need generators, power tools, battery-powered tools and some hand tools. People with carpentry skills would be a real plus! We need 16-20 people to get the job done in one weekend.
RSVP: Contact Damon Yerkes or Andy Olavarria if you can come. Damon’s email is firstname.lastname@example.org. Contact Andy at email@example.com or 315-4991.
Background: Over the past year Valley County Pathways has been working on a new, non-motorized trail in Donnelly along Boulder Creek. This trail has been funded by various private and government grants. There is a section of this path that crosses wetland area and is a raised deck that spans 255 feet. The pier supports are in place, the decking just needs to be built. This is the last section of the trail to be completed. We have secured the lumber from ProBuild and it should be on site next Wednesday. This project is important to Valley County Pathways and Donnelly Elementary School.
VC Pathways will provide lunch and drinks. If you know someone that might be interested please forward this information to them.
Thanks for your support.
– Damon Yerkes, Valley County Pathways
Valley County Pathways is hosting a trail cleanup party on the North Valley Rail-Trail on Saturday, June 4, as part of National Trails Day.
Please join us to help pick up litter on the trail, and do some brushing and trail-enhancement work.
We’ll meet at 10 a.m. at the trailhead just south of River Ranch. Valley County Pathways will provide lunch and beverages for volunteers.
Please RSVP and let us know if you can help out. Contact Andy Olavarria, VCP president, at firstname.lastname@example.org, 208-315-4991, or Steve Stuebner, VCP vice president, email@example.com, 208-484-0295.