Valley County commissioners passed an ordinance June 16 allowing fat-tire bicycles on groomed snowmobile trails in the area, opening more than 200 miles of trails to cyclists. Fat tires are double the width of conventional tires, handling conditions like snow or sand where regular bikes couldn't ride.
The measure passed with ease, according to Valley County Recreation Director Larry Laxson, who added that the most exciting part of the process was "get[ting] the motorized people and the non-motorized people to come together."
Like snowmobilers, the ordinance requires fat-tire bike users to buy a $25 annual sticker to access the trails.
"They want to be part of the system to help pay for the groomed trails and they didn't have a way to do that before," Laxson said. The money from those registration stickers goes straight back into maintaining trails.
But the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation isn't as excited about the ordinance as Laxson and fat-tire enthusiasts.
"It's not that our agency has a qualm with allowing those fat-tire bikes on trails," said Jennifer Okerlund, communications director for IDPR. "We don't like those bikes having to purchase snowmobile registration stickers."
Specifically, Okerlund said, that's because the snowmobile stickers come with a specific registration process that requires a vehicle identification number, which bicycles don't have. She said registration laws in Idaho would have to be changed to include bikes. Valley County's ordinance is a "square peg trying to fit into a round hole," she added.
Laxson said he really wanted something like this to pass at a state level, "but the IDPR doesn't do anything about it, so we did it on a county level."
"We want it to be a trails pass and we don't care where people stick them," Laxson said. "We've got to be inclusive; that's the key to recreation. We have to all work together, or we lose it."
In other Valley County recreation news, Brundage Mountain Resort is spending the first month of summer finishing the final phase of its $500,000 lodge renovation--vastly increasing its amount of sun-exposed deck space to 14,000 square feet. The deck will be serviced by Smoky's Bar and Grill throughout the summer and winter seasons.
Because of the construction at the resort, the Idaho-Down Music Festival, which for five years has taken place at the base of the ski area, will be postponed until summer 2015.
Brundage's normal summer chairlift service kicks off June 27 with scenic rides and mountain biking (see McCall summer calendar, Page 20).