BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The parks and recreation department in Idaho has asked residents for donations to combat years of budget cuts for trail maintenance across the state.
The state department has plans to debut a voluntary, donation-based initiative to secure funds for nonmotorized trails, the Idaho Statesman reported Tuesday.
“The trails are disappearing. They’re just going away,” department coordinator Tom Helmer said.
The initiative would use donations to fund trail preservation, mirroring the model used in the state for motorized trails, which are funded by registration fees for off-highway vehicles, Helmer said. The funds could also be used to maintain backcountry trails on Forest Service land to nonmotorized paths on county property, he said.
Multiple federal and state land management agencies have faced budget cuts causing trails to become overgrown, blocked by debris, washed out or impassable. Restrictions on motor vehicles make the trails harder to access, and paths in wilderness areas prohibit the use of tools such as chainsaws to aid in maintenance.
The agency is partnering with groups like the Selway Bitterroot Frank Church Foundation, Idaho Trails Association and 9B Trails, which already help fund or perform trail maintenance on nonmotorized trails.
“It’s not as much about raising money for trails as raising awareness,” said David Langhorst, the director of Idaho Parks and Recreation. “I think people have resisted paying for nonmotorized trails because they perceive their federal tax dollars are going to that. We think that resistance has turned into understanding.”
The agency expects to introduce the program on June 6 — National Trails Day — and provide stickers promoting the initiative to people who donate at least $10.