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.