Recreationists from around the state have been meeting in Boise this week to dole out up to $9.315 million in grants for recreation projects.
The money from registration fees and fuel taxes is distributed annually by committees of users in that particular category.
The funds that are being addressed this week:
▪ RV Fund, which has $6 million this year from RV registrations.
▪ Waterways Improvement Fund, which has $1.3 million from state fuel taxes.
▪ Off Road Motor Vehicle Fund, which has $500,000 from state fuel taxes.
▪ Motorbike Fund (includes ATVs), which has $150,000 from registrations.
▪ And the Recreational Trail Program, which has about $1.5 million from federal fuel taxes.
The committees of six to 10 people meet at the Idaho State Parks and Recreation offices for two days to evaluate grant proposals and make decisions. They look for projects that appeal to the users — for example, new RV campgrounds or electrical upgrades for the RV Fund.
“This is one of the coolest things we do,” Idaho State Parks and Recreation Director David Langhorst said.
It can be a bittersweet week, though. While giving out money is fun, saying no is not, said Kathy Muir, the state and federal grants manager for Idaho State Parks and Rec.
“It’s very democratic,” Muir said. “We’re asking the users what they want.”
The money becomes available at the start of the fiscal year, July 1.
Some of the projects funded last year included $160,000 to pave the access road at Buffalo Campground in the Caribou-Targhee National Forest (RV Fund), $82,450 for a patrol boat for Nez Perce County from the Waterways Improvement Fund, $21,060 for an avalanche awareness program in the Payette National Forest from the Off-Road Motor Vehicle Fund and $84,756 to the Friends of the Weiser River Trail for improvements at Midvale from the Recreational Trail Program.
Signs are placed on projects completed with grant money so users know how they were funded.
Eagle Island gets new entrance; old entrance to close
A new entrance for Eagle Island State Park will open April 4. The new entrance is off Highway 44 (State Street) at the Fisher Parkway/Eagle Island Parkway intersection.
“We’re excited about the new entrance. Park access will be more visible from Highway 44,” Eagle Island State Park Manager Gary Shelley said in a press release. “Several new experiences within the park — zip-line tours, expanded disc golf, a refurbished waterslide and a restroom remodel/enlargement are planned for 2016, and we are looking forward to a busy summer.”
The old Linder/Hatchery Road entrance will close April 11.
Check out Ada County’s photo winners
Ada County Parks and Waterways released the winners of its annual photo contest in the winter issue of the Current newsletter. It’s worth a look.
The photo at the top of this story took first place in landscape/scenic. Megan Carley’s photo was taken on the Corrals Trail.
“This photo was taken while chasing my husband on a mountain bike one morning before work,” she wrote. “He is rarely willing to stop for a photo so I get to practice my intervals as I snap a quick photo and sprint to catch up to him. We feel fortunate to live and recreate in such a beautiful place! I generally shoot with a Canon Rebel but on adventures such as these I use my trusty iPhone 6.”
Brundage offers spring break deals
If you’d rather enjoy the last days of winter than celebrate the oncoming spring, Brundage Mountain is offering some spring break specials. Check them out here.
Don’t enter new park yet
The City of Boise issued a request for people to stay out of Esther Simplot Park during construction. The park is expected to open later this year but no date has been set.
The park will cover 55 acres, including 23 acres of ponds.
“We’re asking the public to be patient with us while the next park in our Ribbon of Jewels is complete,” Doug Holloway, director of Boise Parks and Recreation, said in a press release. “This park will truly be a one-of-a-kind asset to our city, and we’re just as excited as our citizens to see it completed. However, it’s very important that the public respect the site as an unsafe construction zone and wait until it is officially open.”
Snowmobile area opens
Snowmobilers can play in the peaks above Soldier Mountain Ski Area for the rest of the season because snowcat skiing is closed.
From the press release: Snowmobilers are allowed to park in the north end of the ski area parking lot and travel up the South Fork of Soldier Creek to the snowcat skiing area. Snowmobilers are reminded that ski runs within Soldier Mountain Ski Area remain closed to motorized use. For more information contact the Fairfield Ranger District office at 208-764-3202.