Maybe you’ve never been to Imperial Gulch and that’s OK—after all, it’s a local secret: a beautiful, quiet canyon, located 10 minutes from either Hailey or Ketchum. It’s home to a challenging mountain bike trail, the occasional small herd of elk or deer, and even a silver mine built by Ketchum founder Isaac Lewis.
In 1980, when the Greenhorn PUD was platted, the Blaine County Planning and Zoning Commission and the county commissioners protected “perpetual ingress and egress” to Greenhorn’s side canyons with public access easements and plat notes. These easements were a legal guarantee of road access that dated back to at least 1880. Imperial Gulch Road is one such road: the only physical and legal access for two private properties and thousands of acres of public lands beyond.
Since 2012, however, some of the property owners adjacent to Imperial Gulch Road have been attempting to close access—physically and seasonally.
Faced with such opposition and the threat of not being able to access our lots, we—the two Imperial Gulch property owners—have had to petition Blaine County to “validate” the road as a public road, thereby protecting the rights of the public to travel up the canyon, year-round.
This erosion of public access is a story we’ve seen all over Idaho and in Blaine County: the Wilks Brothers near Boise, Flying Heart Ranch, Lee’s Gulch and now Imperial Gulch. Historic access rights—guaranteed by the federal government to help spur development of the West in the 1860s—are under attack. Idaho Statute 40-204A protects many of these roads in perpetuity, but that’s not stopping landowners from imposing unlawful conditions on access, or illegally closing that access entirely.
Please speak up and let the County Commission know that you support continued year-round access to Imperial Gulch and other public lands to which we are all entitled to enjoy. The validation hearing will be held at the County Courthouse on Tuesday, Dec. 3, at 1:30 p.m., and we hope that friends of public access will lend us their support.