(City of Pocatello Press Release, January 12, 2022)
As the first step in developing a sustainable regional trail system, over 1100 community members recently took a 10-minute Trail User Survey.
Reponses overwhelmingly indicate community members and visitors love our local trails and public land for their ease of access, proximity, views, beauty, solitude, wildlife, and variety. They go on these the trails to observe nature, exercise, look at views, enjoy solitude, and relax. These trails and public lands are a big influence on decisions to move/stay in Pocatello or visit the area (day trips and overnights). They also greatly impact purchases of bikes, OHVs, footwear, etc.
The survey indicates there is also work to be done. Trail maintenance, diverse recreational opportunities, wildlife habitat, water quality and access are the primary trail system issues mentioned. Additionally, trailhead restroom and garbage issues, trail maintenance needs, too few authorized trails/system expansion needed, and trail user education are the most frequently named challenges and opportunities. The proliferation of user-created trails is considered to be generally problematic for the environment, trail maintenance, and clarity of authorized trail use. These user-created trails are also appreciated for dispersing users and adding to the system. About 40 percent of trail users have experienced trail conflict, primarily due to high speed travel, improper trail use (e.g. recreating on muddy trails), and dogs.
This survey was administered by Idaho State University (as part of their Career Path Internship program) on behalf of the City of Pocatello, and in partnership with the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management. The data gathered by this survey will be used by a Trails Working Group to develop a community-driven vision for a sustainable regional trail system. Working Group members will use that vision to assess local trails for vision compatibility, develop a regional trail map, and create a prioritized list of improvement projects for public land managers to consider implementing.
Hannah Sanger, Science and Environment Administrator for the City, noted “We heard again and again and again how much local trail users value the variety of local trails, how close they are to our homes, the views, the wildlife on these public lands, and the solitude you can experience up in the hills. These are values that we will ask the Trails Working Group to incorporate into a Regional Trails Vision and recommendations.”
Anyone wanting to participate in this Regional Trails Working Group is asked to complete a short questionnaire at forms.gle/FiQ9Nq12VMZtiCub6. The questionnaire will be open through January 20, 2022 with members selected in early February. For more information, please contact Drew Riemersma at firstname.lastname@example.org or 208-234-6519.