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Boulder-White Clouds Council
Post Office Box 6313
Ketchum, Idaho 83340

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Current News & Issues: Trails & Recreation


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ATV Route Proposed

Update 2005, 2006, 2007: The Big Lost River ATV trail described below has been scaled back. ATV users and Custer County officials are still advocating for formal designation for at least a portion of the trail. For more background about the ATV trail:

Update 2004: ATV Route Proposed
A 460-mile ATV (all-terrain vehicle) route through central Idaho has been proposed by the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation (IDPR). A signed trail would link Arco to Mackay to Challis, and pass through the Big Lost River and Pahsimeroi valleys, the eastern Boulder-White Clouds and Copper Basin in the Pioneer Mountains.

The Custer County town of Challis has welcomed the proposal, while in Blaine County where many residents recreate and own property in the Big Lost region, the reception has been chilly. The powerful, state funded, pro-motorized IDPR has told us that ATV use is growing and thereís no stopping it and claims a designated trail would help keep the machines in control. Two enforcement officers would be funded to patrol the 460-mile route. IDPR receives funds by collecting a percentage of the stateís gas tax and from off-highway vehicle registration fees

IDPR held meetings in February in Challis, Mackay and Arco. Then, because of outcry in Blaine County, hosted a Hailey meeting in March. In an effort to bring sides together, State Senator Clint Stennett of Ketchum, who also has a ranch near Mackay, has proposed that IDPR scale back and starts with a smaller "pilot" ATV route near Challis or Arco.

The next step will be for IDPR to ask the U.S. Forest Service and BLM to begin a formal Environmental Analysis of the proposed route within their lands of jurisdiction. Initially, IDPR said they wanted the signed route in place by summer 2004.

Trail opponents cite safety concerns, negative impacts to wildlife and to other recreationists, and increased soil damage by ATVís leaving the signed route, and going cross-country. Also, that this trail will encourage more ATV use, which equals more demand for trails elsewhere. Trail project contact: Dave Claycom, Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation, Idaho Falls, 208/525-7121.

Comment: Boulder-White Clouds Council shares the concerns of many people questioning rather this publicized, designated route is a wise idea.

SAFETY: In Idaho, a driverís license is NOT required for ATV use on Forest Service and BLM roads. In other words, a 5-year old child could ride much of this 460-mile route. Nor are helmets required.

MORE ON SAFETY: IDPR says the proposed trail will use existing roads and not create new ones. The route goes from Trail Creek road through Peckís Canyon, in the eastern Boulder-White Clouds. Peckís Canyon road is narrow, with blind corners, and goes up a steep drainage with few pullouts. Accidents would be almost a certainty Ė especially since most ATV riders go full throttle. More than once, while driving in the backcountry, weíve had to slam on the brakes, and maneuver to avoid speeding ATVís, in the middle of the road.

ENFORCEMENT: Existing ATV use cannot be controlled on Forest Service or BLM lands, or near towns. Closure signs at the bottom of illegal hill climbs are torn down. ATVís ride through wet meadows and streams, and are not caught because thereís just too much country for a few law officers to patrol.

ATV IMPACTS ON OTHER RECREATIONISTS Ė The Copper Basin country is noted for washboard, dusty roads. Adding thousands of ATVís to an area already popular with fishermen, campers, horsemen, hikers and photographers, would diminish their outdoor experience. The Paiute ATV Trail in Utah has over 60,000 ATVs annually.

A QUOTE: "We Ö need more control of the existing use, and to encourage folks to pursue less consuming, disruptive and healthier ways to enjoy nature." F. Carl Pence, Guest Opinion, Wood River Journal, April 2, 2003.

A FINAL NOTE: In a 2002 survey conducted by the Sawtooth Society, the top vote getter for what people liked least about the Sawtooth National Recreation Area was motorized recreation.

For more pro-ATV information visit these web sites:

For more pro-quiet recreation reading visit:

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