On Saturday, September 23rd, 16 volunteers gathered in the Pahsimeroi Valley to complete a phase of the Sawmill Canyon project for National Public Lands Day. The volunteers represented Idaho BHA, Idaho Parks and Recreation, Idaho Single Track Alliance, Idaho Falls Trail Machine Association, Challis Community Trails, TreadLightly!, BRP and Can-Am.The Sawmill Canyon project was initiated in 2018 and has included a variety of NGO’s including Idaho BHA, state agencies, recreation groups and the National Forest, and represents a collaborative approach to improving travel management, recreation and wildlife habitat. Implementation began in June of 2023, with multiple phases of the project culminating in the installation of trail restrictors, trail re-routes, fences to eliminate illegal trails and meadow restoration. These projects all help to protect important critical wildlife winter range and archeological sites, bring trails on the ground in alignment with the Salmon Challis Travel Management plan, and allow for balanced motorized and non-motorized recreation experiences.
Friday’s rain, snow and cold temperatures didn’t deter the volunteers; as the fog lifted in camp on Saturday morning a beautiful Idaho fall day was revealed, with fresh snow on the mountains and fall colors on the trees. By the end of the weekend, volunteers had built 920’ of jackleg fence, helped finalize the removal of over two miles of unauthorized routes, installed two trail restrictors, and constructed 1.2 miles of 50” trail.
According to IDPR, in 2023 the Sawmill Canyon project accomplishments included:
- over 5 miles of user-created routes removed from the Forest
- over 800 hours of volunteer time was donated
- 4 trail restrictors installed
- over 1,700 feet of fence constructed
- untold acres of wildlife habitat protected
This amount of work could not have been completed in one year without the incredible collaboration, cooperation and leadership provided by the variety of groups that are invested in the Sawmill Canyon project. Plans are already in the works to implement more phases of the project in 2024.