After almost two decades of searching, city of Hailey has a new site for snow storage about two miles west of town in Croy Canyon.
During recent snowy winters, the Hailey’s snow storage site on city-owned land at Lions Park in Blaine County became a problem. As the enormous mound of snow melted in spring, it threatened to pour into the nearby Big Wood River.
“It’s not desirable to store snow in a riparian area,” said Hailey Public Works Director Brian Yeager.
At other times, the city has stacked snow from its streets on private land in the Airport West subdivision and at a church.
“But we never owned that land,” Yeager said. “We rented it every year.”
The city had been searching for about 18 years for a permanent and reliable snow storage site, according to Yeager.
A solution was found in 2019 when the city exchanged water rights and a well site property in Northridge subdivision—a nearly $600,000 value—for a 28-acre parcel owned by the Blaine County School District in Croy Canyon. In recent weeks, the city has been developing about 3 acres of that parcel for snow storage, installing pathways for trucks, infiltration wells and building a berm to keep snow melt from running down into a wetland area below.
Yeager said the new site will be used on a trial basis this year to test its functionality, while Lions Park will also be used minimally to keep the “grandfathered use” there as a backup. He city equipment and staff were used for the design and preparation of the site, with an additional cost of less than $40,00 for materials.
The change in snow storage location ties into a plan to restore and remediate Lions Park, which was once used as a dump and now borders on the Wood River Land Trust’s Draper Preserve.
The Wood River Land Trust recently acquired about 118 acres of land below the new storage site for the Simons/Bauer Preserve, the majority of which is a biodiverse wetland between Lions Park and the Mountain Humane animal shelter.
The Land Trust has plans to remediate and redevelop Lions Park as a part of the north end of the Hailey Greenway, which reaches through the Draper Preserve. One goal is to restore the natural floodplain, which would allow the Big Wood to flow at times through the old snow storage site at Lions Park.
“This new arrangement will be a win for the community,” said Scott Boettger, executive director of the Wood River Land Trust. “It will reduce the amount of contamination that the runoff brings into the Big Wood River, and it will provide the opportunity to move forward with the restoration plans conceptualized in the Hailey Greenway Master Plan, which calls for the reconnection of the river to its floodplain to help mitigate spring floods.”