Southern Valley Recreation Project

The Southern Valley Recreation Project (SVUITP) is a proposal to bring new, multi-user, beginner and intermediate trails to the Mike Harris area of Caribou-Targhee National Forest. This long-awaited project proposal would add nearly 20 miles of new multi-use trails to the Mike Harris area in Southern Teton Valley. 

Current Project Status: Scoping Released! Comment by May 20 to Joseph McFarlane, Recreation Specialist @ jmcfarlane@fs.fed.us.

The SVUITP proposal was given to the Teton Basin Ranger District in early spring, 2015. The TBRD started the scoping process in October, 2015. Mountain Bike the Tetons worked closely with the district’s leadership and recreation specialist to usher the project through the NEPA process. The scoping documents were released for public comment on April 20. The public is asked to submit proposal comments by May 20, 2016. Because the NEPA process is long and thorough, Mountain Bike the Tetons is hoping for final project approval in fall, 2016 with new trail construction beginning in early 2017. Once approved, MBT will have to raise significant funding to design and build the approved trails.

What is the Southern Valley Recreation Project?

The Southern Valley Recreation project is a community effort to bring beginner and intermediate level trails to Victor in the Mike Harris area. The project area is located in Teton Valley’s southern end and the Mike Harris campground is easily accessible from town by either Old Jackson Highway or Highway-33. The proposal as presented by the USFS includes adopting existing user created trails, improving existing trails like Pole Canyon and Mike Sell, building a new connector from Mike Harris to Pole Canyon, creating a new singletrack connector across the highway from Rush Hour to return to Mike Harris and also incorporates winter grooming for nordic skiing and fat biking.

What is Scoping?

Scoping is a part of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Environmental Assessment process through which a federal agency describes a proposed action and possible alternatives. The agency then seeks input from other agencies, organizations, and the public on potentially affected resources, environmental issues to be considered, and the agency’s planned approach to analysis.

SVTrailsMapScoping

The Proposed Project

The proposed action has 5 components that include construction of trail segments and recreational facilities. New trails and trail head amenity construction, a new bridge over trail creek, packed/groomed winter routes and campground expansion are proposed. We encourage you to read the entire scoping document. It’s well-written, clear and concise and makes a strong case for the project.

The Teton Basin Ranger District will begin the NEPA required Environmental Assessment work this spring. Mountain Bike the Tetons fully supports the entire project scope. We will advocate for and submit comments to support the Pole Canyon connector option 1 and for the Trail Creek bridge placement to be placed closest to the Trail Creek campground, (option 2 on the map).

All of the documents and maps can be found on the Caribou-Targhee National Forest’s website.

How do I write a good comment letter?

First, the technical bits. Include your name, address, email and phone #.

Please send an email to:
Joseph McFarlane, Recreation Specialist
jmcfarlane@fs.fed.us

Snail mail:
Teton Basin Ranger District
c/o Joseph McFarlane
515 South Main P.O. Box 777, Driggs, ID, 83422
For full instructions, click here.

What should you say? Here are some ideas.

  • Make it personal. How would these new trails add to your quality of life? To your enjoyment of and connection to your public lands? To your children’s and family’s ability to enjoy and appreciate the outdoors?
  • Cite economic benefits. Mountain bike and multi-use trail-based tourism contributes to the economic prosperity of a local community. Lodging, restaurants, retail, and gas sales increase. Trails and outdoor recreation create jobs.
  • State that the Southern Valley Rec project will address a clear community need by creating beginner and intermediate-friendly multi-use trails close to town, ones that will be used and maintained year-round. New trails will increase you and your community’s access to and appreciation of public lands – you could ride to your rides!
  • Cite the community’s involvement in developing the project proposal. That you’ll contribute financially or volunteer to MBT’s and the USFS’s trail building efforts. That you’ll help maintain and contribute to the trails once built. That the City of Victor extensively workshopped the proposal and collected community feedback before it was presented to the USFS.
  • Or, simply write a quick email saying thank you to the Teton Basin Ranger District for their hard work and say “I fully support the Southern Valley Recreation Project.”  Short and sweet is great.
  • Concerns are of course okay, too. Let them know what you think!

Please submit comments by May 20th.

The Southern Valley Recreation Project will greatly improve trail access and recreation opportunities in Teton Valley. Please show your support for this well-rounded, multi-use trail and recreation proposal and write to the USFS today!

MBT and the entire community is grateful to TBRD Recreation Specialist Joe McFarlane, District Ranger Jay Pence and the entire Teton Basin Ranger District for the great deal of effort and time they have dedicated to the project. Please let them know you appreciate their efforts in your comments!

Project History

From the City of Victor: In January, 2014 City of Victor Mayor Zach Smith wrote a letter to Jay Pence, District Ranger for the Teton Basin Ranger District of the Caribou-Targhee National Forest, proposing the Southern Valley Urban Interface Trails Project. In March 2014 the City of Victor received a response letter from the Forest Service noting a number of questions related to the Mayor’s letter, and details on how the Southern Valley Urban Interface Trails Project proposal, if accepted, would have to go through the NEPA process.

In the spring and summer of 2014 the Mayor and Victor City Council directed staff to request qualifications from consultants to lead the Southern Valley Urban Interface Trails Project and coordinate with the Forest Service through the NEPA process; due to financial constraints a consultant was not hired. Victor City Council also voted to allocate funding to the project in the 2015 and several local non-profits have committed to donating funding to the project.

In late summer and fall of 2014, the City of Victor began working with a committee of user group representatives and the Teton Area Advisory Forum to come up with preliminary answers to the question’s in the Forest Service’s March 2014 letter, to talk about potential new trail routes and uses, and to plan for a public input meeting. Some members of the user group committee were active in the 2010-2011 Southern Valley Trails Project.

You may access complete documents, maps and proposed trail use matrix from the City of Victor here: Southern Valley Urban Interface Trails Project.

Resources

Southern Valley Trails Map

Southern Valley Urban Interface Trails Project Map