By Mike Jeffords, Ravalli County Off Road Users Association
A new year, a new riding season. As many of you know, Ravalli County Off Road Users lost our lawsuit against the forest service and as a result one of our most enjoyable trails will continue to be off limits to motorized use, at least for the time being. Our loss on this lawsuit that has not stopped our work with the forest service toward planning and constructing new trails.
The first trail project coming this summer is a new trail up the east fork of the Bitterroot. Last fall we completed all the paper work, comments and red tape necessary and we were given the green light on building this new trail. We had time to go out for bids and get a contractor, sign papers and lock down funding. The new trail will be constructed this spring and early summer with the intention to have a formal trail opening in early July.
Two additional trails are being planned for construction up the west fork of the Bitterroot. During this upcoming summer we are going to be doing the ground work of staking out connectors and slope gradients. Once the staking is done, in addition to the necessary NEPA and public comments, application will begin for grants to fund the trail project. If all goes as planned the summer of 2020 will be construction of these two trails.
Waiting in the wings, so to speak, is addition to an existing trail on the Stevi district. An addition to Trail 313 in the Forest Travel Plan was approved. This project is ready for us to start discussions with the agency for planning when work can begin.
Finally, on a personal note, I’m going to do my annual West Fork - Shoup Idaho, to West Fork ride this summer. This ride is around 125 miles round trip. It goes through the Bitterroot, Salmon, and Chalis Forests, follows the North Fork of the Salmon River back up to the Bitterroot Forest. On the way, it passes by some Indian pictographs, and some nice scenery. I usually go up to Long Tom Look-out, which has some great views of the Frank Church River Of No Return. So, if this is something you might like to do, watch the Ravalli County Off Road User web site for dates.
Well, have a great riding season, stay safe, and I’ll see ya’ on the trail!