Snake River Canyons Park Board

Open Meeting Minutes

Thursday, January 11, 2024

Renew Coffee, Jerome, Idaho

Attending Board Members: Chairman Bill Bridges, Sue Williams, Brenda Weekes, John Weston, Mark Reyes, Jeff Pierson, Greg Moore, and Becky Dean as alternate Board Member. Not present: Steve Paulson and Alan Clawson.

Guests: Mike Tilka as Advisor, Larry Hall with Jerome 2020 as Advisor, David Freiberg and Codie Martin with BLM, Jerome Commissioners Charlie Howell and Art Watkins, and Rebecca Wildman taking minutes.

Bill called the meeting to order at 11:10 a.m. with a quorum present. Introductions were made.

Minutes: December 14, 2023, minutes reviewed with Sue submitting corrections on the grant amounts including (PLEASE CHECK THESE) $34,8741 in two grants. The Park spent $256,419.89 and $92,321.11 is left from the grant and funds are to be used by June 2024. Sue thinks another $30k will be spent in March for the second vault toilet, and any other incidentals for the RV Camp. Sue moved to approve as corrected, Brenda second, minutes approved.

Treasurers Report: (PLEASE CHECK THESE) $11,352 in account. Tracy McKim was unavailable so the other account balances are unknown for this report. The regular account has $56,710 left but cannot verify expenditures. The I.T. account has had no expenditures. Commissioners provided $85k for the Broken Bridge project and $27,500 is unspent. Any additional expenditure must occur by July and Art will confirm the deadline date.

No approval yet from BLM for Yingst Grade improvements and if we don’t get approval soon then it may need to be paused until eagle nesting restrictions have passed. Bill asked if it is possible to use the Yingst funds of $27k for the tent park and then when tent park money comes in it can go back towards Yingst. Art will look into this too. Discussion on ARPA funds and disagreement if they need to be used by 2024 or by 2026. Bill is concerned about timing and if eagles are nesting then the project is stalled. Codie stated based on Fish and Wildlife database maps and past nests, it should be assumed the nests are occupied until outside the restriction time. Codie said Bill Bridges may be able to get certified by Fish and Wildlife to complete bird observation reporting. Codie added the BLM is understaffed in that 15 positions at their Shoshone district office, eight are now vacant.

Tent Camping: Sue said the Backcountry Horsemen members are tied up until March and will look at installing horse corrals after that. She posted notice of RV camping on a travelers Facebook page with almost 500 hits so far, mostly from equestrian travelers happy about the stopover proximity. She will monitor demand and timing. Sue has not looked at funding options for tent camping yet, but Gerald Martins estimates $100k will be needed for grading, parking and designating sites and signage. Bill said Eastern Idaho Railroad will likely donate used ties and he will get Sue a contact. Sites will be 16×16 so about 8 railroad ties per site for 11 sites equals an estimate of 90 needed. Sue will provide her written Tent Camping proposal for Bill and others to start fundraising. Bill spoke to the Twin Falls morning Rotary club and a member from Glanbia said they may be able to help. Sue will actively look to collect names of businesses and people to start fundraising for the project.

Website: Bill and Art will monitor billing and website posts.

Broken Bridge: New bridge is installed and being used. Brenda inquired if the contractor has been fully paid. Brenda added since the work was done from the North side instead of the South, there was some mild grading done and she was concerned as the BLM had not pre-approved work on the North side. Codie confirmed there was road modification but that it was not dramatic; it looked like someone mildly graded the two track roads. He reminded SRCP to remind contractors to not do any additional work, but in this case, Codie is not concerned.

The new bridge needs a name. Bill’s January newspaper article requests suggested names. Ribbon cutting is likely to be in April or May, and will confirm access issues, particularly relative to Quagga mussel closures.

Yingst Grade Easement: Brenda took Gerald Marten’s development plan to BLM on January 8th and confirmed Dirk (front desk at BLM) has it and may work on it until John Tjaden is back. Codie thought a fair amount of clearances have already been accomplished and BLM needs to process it with their realty specialist. One year ago, Bill suggested the highway department to consider widening the road to the Yingst parking lot.

Shooting Range: John will check in with Fish and Game about the $4,700 grant for a feasibility study. Codie said the district is considering several areas to place shooting ranges. The Arizona visit was insightful as to considerations and what to not do in developing a shooting range. Codie said BLM is narrowing locations with the easiest natural use and without grazing areas. BLM has identified at least three retired gravel pits for possible 100/200 yard ranges including one in Malad by Gooding, another South of Filer, and a third by the Murtaugh bridge. BLM is looking into lead contamination issues and if you need a reclaiming company, liner use of chips.

Codie said the BLM acknowledges the SRCP’s interest in a range, but the BLM and Jerome County need to look at what is being proposed in the area outside of the park, who pays for it, runs it, etc. Discussed if the feasibility study should be pursued and Codie acknowledged the BLM would like to see those findings if it is completed. Also noted that BLM is engaging allotment holders in conversations about future land uses.

Shoshone Falls Overlook: Larry said Steven Anderson with Civil Sciences updated him on the survey and core drilling. All fieldwork is complete; their report should be done in another month or two. John had given him a footprint of drilling and based on that is there an idea how footprint might change, including the drive isle, but not much else anticipated in changes. Visual can easily be camouflaged, buildings will open to the north, and steel materials will have a rusting look and blend in. Larry believes they can present results at a future meeting.

Randel Brunmeier with the Idaho Department of Lands has worked with Idaho Power over safety concerns.  Codie martin said two large boulders came through the plant in the canyon. Fencing was installed this fall as an emergency fix. Bill added that the 3-acre private property to the East has some recent grading done and some was done on the IDL parking lot without IDL’s permition.  Bill indicated is desire for the park to acquire this property. Mention of historical burial sites, albeit one marker was fictitious, and other nearby properties.

Volunteer Service Award: Sue recommended establishing a $300 budget for volunteer recognition awards, John made the motion with Sue’s second; motion carried. Brenda suggested two awards given, one for volunteers and the other for services. Brenda nominated Gerald Martens and his company Tensco for the services award and the work he is done in helping engineer the Broken Bridge, Yingst Grade and the RV Park (see Brenda’s handout). Bill added a second nomination for the Off Roaders group for 24 years of volunteer park cleanup. Jeff felt awards are a PR benefit for the park and supports the idea of two awards. Brenda motioned to give two awards this year, one as the volunteer service award and the other for outstanding services to the park, Mark second, passed unanimously. Bill clarified that Gerald Martens will receive the services award and the Off Roaders will receive the volunteers award and awards will be given as a plaque with SRCP logo and design from Mason’s trophies.

Work on Five Year Plan: In December Brenda and Sue met with the and updated the planning packet handout with its list of all projects they’ve placed by compatibility on the map and have noted timelines and priorities. Some projects don’t need BLM clearances but for those that do, the BLM wants a clear priority list.

Brenda and Bill will next present to Jerome County Commissioners at their January 16th meeting. Art asked for a commissioner to be included in future meetings with BLM. Brenda suggested establishing relationships with the user groups and to be mindful of those who already have rights or right-aways. Brenda clarified she needs this board to review the 5-year plan draft and BLM priorities.

Codie suggested a hiking trail from bridge to overlook and only needing the Idaho Department of Lands for easement approval. Brenda would like to prioritize said trail and suggested working with the county. Other items that can be worked on and don’t need BLM approval, include naming of ORV trails and marking already established equestrian trails. Inquired if they could use the $5k grant for placement marking and trail markers.

Codie added that designating non-motorized use areas is challenging and suggested implementing an ordinance from the county commissioners instead of BLM designation. Bill noted East of Devil’s Corral could be non-motorized and West of it could stay motorized with Codie adding that emergency use access is necessary and to not install barricades.

Sue reiterated that the Board’s action item here is to review and submit priorities noting the two columns of Board’s Priority and BLM Priority. BLM’s first priority is Yingst Grade and second is the Shoshone Overlook. Board members to send subsequent priority suggestions to Brenda before January 16th.

Speaking Opportunities: Bill will reschedule his speaking with the Magic Valley Land Trust. He spoke to the Twin Falls AM Rotary on Tuesday.

Speakers Bureau: Sue encouraged the board not to delay in planning these events.

Security: Bill reported no issues in the past four months; only one damaged sign at Vineyard and he will replace it. Added that the Idaho Conservation League picked up eight 30-gallon bags of garbage in a cleanup at Vineyard. The Prairie Falcon Audubon is also looking to help with projects.

Maintenance: Bill said the board needs to figure out a budget on how to handle future maintenance including grass cutting and trash cleanup. Proposal needs to be submitted to commissioners by September.

Newspaper Articles: Bill’s January article has been submitted and Sue’s article on tent camping will run in February.

Open Meeting Rules: Jeff asked to defer discussion.

Closures: Brenda had sent notice that Vineyard Lake area is closed to off-road vehicles but no

signs are posted. Codie added that the non-private area of Devil’s Corral is on BLM property, is also already non-motorized, and it would also be a good place to ride horses.

Meeting Adjourned at 1:00 p.m.

Next meeting Thursday February 8, 2024, 11am – 1pm, at the 19th Hole

Executive Sessions may be held pursuant to Idaho Code 74-206(1) as needed during time such sessions are called.

Note: Any person needing special accommodations to participate in the meeting should contact the committee secretary, 208-293-2426; 48 hours prior to the meeting.