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Post Office Box 6313
Ketchum, Idaho 83340
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Current News & Issues: Trails & Recreation
 

GRAVEL PIT:

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SMOKE & MIRRORS IN
THE SAWTOOTH VALLEY
 

Summer 2006: In late June, without notice to the SNRA or local residents, the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) bulldozed a new gravel pit just off Fourth of July road in the Sawtooth Valley

 

Asphalt smoke and fumes spew into the Sawtooth Valley at the State of Idaho's new Fourth of July gravel pit. The Sawtooth Wilderness is in the background. Lynne Stone photo.
Asphalt smoke and fumes spew into the Sawtooth Valley at the State of Idaho's new
Fourth of July gravel pit. The Sawtooth Wilderness is in the background. Lynne Stone photo.

 

The state owns a 640-acre section of land here and someone in ITD suddenly decided to construct a new pit rather than use one on SNRA land a mile away, or others closer to the Highway 21 project where the crushed rock and asphalt was to be delivered.

 

By early July, rock crushers were up and running, sending dust into the pristine airshed and soon the new pit was larger than several football fields. Then, an asphalt plant was added that belched black smoke and fumes, settling so thick into Champion Creek canyon that even the wolves left.

 

Semi-trucks hauled the crushed gravel and asphalt seven days a week, up to 40 miles one-way, through the Sawtooth Valley, Stanley, to Banner Summit. The project will continue in 2007. The state intends to use the site for the next two decades.

 

Certainly, highways need maintenance. But, there are gravel sources closer to Banner Summit than Fourth of July Creek. SNRA staff says there was a misunderstanding with ITD.

 

State and federal officials have talked of swapping the remaining state parcels in the SNRA for federal land elsewhere. In the meantime, maybe some influential Sawtooth Valley residents will speak to Idaho's new governor who could assert some influence over ITD.
 

Update 2007: The gravel pit was not in operation, but likely will be again in the future.
 

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