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Thanks to Payette River Subdivision #2 for generous donation!

snow bike at Activity Barn

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.

 

Citizens show up in force to support bicycle/pedestrian safety on Warren Wagon Road

 

Dan Slanina of Federal Highways in Seattle explains the Warren Wagon Road repaving project to a packed room at the Payette National Forest

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.slanina@dot.gov, or Erin Chipps, erin.chipps@dot.gov. Please endorse our position in this matter. If you have any other ideas, please let us know!

–  Steve Stuebner, Valley County Pathways

Federal Highways to host public meetings on Tuesday, Jan. 10 on Warren Wagon Road reconstruction, bike lanes

warren-wagon-road-locator-mapBy 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, erin.chipps@dot.gov (360) 619-7637, Dan Slanina, project manager, Daniel.slanina@dot.gov (360) 619-7617, Steve Stuebner with VC Pathways, sstuebner@cableone.net, 208-484-0295, or Michelle Reagan with CIMBA, michelle@gravitysportsidaho.com.

Valley County Pathways grooms North Valley Trail for xc skiing, snowshoeing and fat biking

valley-county-pathways-grooms-north-valley-trail-12-27-16
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

Help us convince federal highway authorities that bike lanes/wide shoulders are critical to the future of Warren Wagon Road

scott-road-riding-in-kit3
Dear friends,

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:

  1. 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).
  2. 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).
  3. 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.
  4. 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).
  5. 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.
  6. 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!

Best,

Steve Stuebner
Valley County Pathways

Valley County Pathways urges strong support for a new recreation district for N. Valley County

By Steve Stuebner
Vice President, VC Pathways

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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
grand prize.

“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.

Near N end of Strand

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.

Andy at North Valley Trailhead on HeinrichAll 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, barrettlamm@gmail.com, Joey Pietri, an athletic trainer at Legend Crossfit, joey@legendcrossfit.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.

North Valley Trail Grooming

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.

North Valley Trail skiingIt’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!

-Steve Stuebner

Land Bridge Project Completed

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!

Boulder Creek Trail Dedication

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.

New Signs for the Fulton Natural Area on Boulder Creek Trail

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!