Park envisioned on Snake canyon rim - Private land to be negotiated with 'willing sellers'

Associated Press
Spokesman Review


JEROME, Idaho _ Federal land managers are considering a county plan for a park along the Snake River canyon's north rim that would help manage the recreation already taking place there.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management will review a lease application from Jerome County, said Bill Baker, BLM Shoshone field manager.

The lease would create a 7,200-acre public recreation area north of the canyon, bounded by the rim, U.S. Highway 93, Interstate 84 and Kimberly Road after it passes over the Hansen Bridge.

The park would exclude the commercial development taking place on the canyon's south rim.

"We haven't yet heard anyone against it," Baker said.

The park would serve several purposes, chief among them organizing current recreation and protecting the environment, said Debbie Kovar, a BLM realty specialist.

The area is popular for all-terrain vehicles, motorcyclists, hikers, horseback riders, rock climbers and target shooters. Shooting firearms has troubled users and may be prohibited.

"Random shooting was dangerous, and people had close calls with bullets whizzing by them," she said.

The park also would protect a wellhead providing 70 percent of the city of Twin Falls' water, said Debbie Dane, executive director of the South Central Idaho Tourism and Recreation Development Association.

A decision could be made in November.

The BLM also is looking to buy private land in the area, most notably Devil's Corral -- a horseshoe-shaped side canyon with crystal-clear springs and spectacular views.

However, such purchases depend on federal funding, Kovar said. Although the BLM has tentative approval for $1 million in the 2004 fiscal year to buy private land, additional funding is uncertain, she said.

Kovar said the BLM has already negotiated with landowners.

"We're not taking land," she said. "It's all from willing sellers."


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