Adams Gulch Winter

The Forest Service and National Forest Foundation are partnering to make Adams Gulch in Ketchum more accessible this summer.

The National Forest Foundation on Tuesday announced a new five-year partnership with the Sawtooth National Forest that will direct around $1.6 million toward forest and campsite restoration projects within the Ketchum Ranger District and Sawtooth National Recreation Area.

The Sawtooth Rivers to Peaks Treasured Landscape Initiative will identify key “treasured” sites from Hailey to Stanley in need of improvement, according to the announcement.

One site already identified is Adams Gulch north of Ketchum, said Dani Southard, Northern Rockies program manager for the Forest Foundation.

The foundation, Forest Service and several community partners, including the Wood River Trails Coalition, Higher Ground and Wood River Backcountry Trails, are proposing an adaptive sports trails enhancement project for Adams Gulch, one of the valley’s most popular recreation spots. The project would entail widening four existing stream-crossing structures—currently too narrow for adaptive cyclists to safely cross—and extending a section of the Forbidden Fruit Trail for adaptive users, with work beginning this summer. Some updates to the trailhead parking area slated for the following summer include a new two-vault restroom and accessible parking, Southard said.

“As recreational forest use has grown over the years, the trailhead at Adams Gulch reaches capacity nearly seven days a week,” the project description reads. “This has resulted in visitors creating their own parking on native vegetation and/or illegally parking on a nearby private neighborhood road. In addition, equipped with only a single-stall restroom, the trailhead is desperately in need of an upgrade to its visitor amenities to meet demand and ensure sanitary conditions.”

The $475,000, two-year project will be supported through a combination of federal and community funding. Southard said that through a national funding agreement with the Forest Service, the Forest Foundation will be able to offer a dollar-for-dollar match for the first $50,000 raised—and fundraising has already begun.

“This project is representative of a number of different projects we’ll be working on over the next five years. It’s a concrete example of how you bring partners together, leverage funds and get work done,” Southard said Tuesday.

Other proposed projects include reforestation efforts on Bald Mountain, seeding and replanting trees in wildfire-damaged areas and relocating dispersed camping sites that degrade wildlife habitat.

“The Sawtooth National Forest draws hundreds of thousands of visitors each year from all over the world. 2020 was no exception,” Sawtooth National Forest Acting Supervisor Kirk Flannigan said in a statement on Tuesday. “The forest saw extraordinarily high levels of use across the area. … [W]e are looking forward to working with the National Forest Foundation in the years to come to update and maintain recreational infrastructure, restore our rivers and forests and continue to foster visitor stewardship.”

To learn more about the initiative,

contact Dani Southard at dsouthard@nationalforests.org.

Email the writer: ejones@mtexpress.com

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