Over the last two summers, the Idaho chapter has been improving trail access in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness. With financial support from Idaho Fish and Game (IDFG), National Forest Foundation (NFF) and funds the chapter has raised, BHA staff and volunteers worked with wilderness outfitters to open over 20 miles of trail. Crews flew into dirt airstrips where outfitters were waiting with pack stock and supplies needed to access difficult to reach sections of trail, deep in the largest wilderness outside of Alaska. Since non-motorized and non-mechanized transportation and tools are required in designated wilderness, volunteers gain exposure to traditional backcountry practices like stock use, packing, cross-cut saws and other primitive methods.
The “Frank”, as it is commonly referred to, is an expansive, rugged and remote landscape. Adequate trail access is absolutely necessary to meet the needs of the general public, agency staff and permitted outfitters, as well as the original intent of this 2.4 million acre wilderness when it was designated by congress. Many of the well-established trails can even be traced back to the native sheepeater people, early mining camps and the Civilian Conservation Corps. The Idaho chapter is looking forward to working with the Forest Service and other partners to expand these wilderness trail maintenance projects in the future. Stay tuned for opportunities to get involved.