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Trail maintenance priorities determined by usage: IDPR crews handle 2,500 trail miles

An Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation Trail Ranger crew pictured working at Secesh Boulder, near Burgdorf, last summer.

Credit: Contributed photo
An Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation Trail Ranger crew pictured working at Secesh Boulder, near Burgdorf, last summer.

The Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation (IDPR) Trail Ranger and Trail Cat Programs, funded by registration stickers for off-highway motorcycles and All-Terrain Vehicles (ATVs), together maintained 2,482 miles of trail last summer.

The Trail Rangers removed 16,583 downed trees, cleaned or installed 579 water drainage structures, and re-established tread on 2,541 feet of trail. The Trail Cat Program consists of a trail dozer and mini-excavator. The mini excavator reconstructed 44.15 miles of trail, constructed 1.2 miles of trail and installed 419 water dips. The trail dozer reconstructed 233.4 miles of trail, constructed 8.5 miles of trail, and installed 1,927 water dips.

The Trail Ranger Program is organized into three two-man crews. Each person carries a chain saw, Pulaski, and shovel along with tank bags that carry gas, oil, and tools for the saws mounted on a motorcycle.

The Trail Cat Program is organized into three, one-man operators. The operator tows either a mini excavator or a Sutter Trail Dozer behind a truck, depending on the type of trail (ATV or motorbike). To efficiently access their job sites, the operators utilize an ATV or motorcycle to shuttle themselves and supplies back and forth from their truck to the site.

Idaho has one of the largest trail systems in the United States (18,000 miles), and many of those trails are open to off-highway vehicles. Keeping those trails accessible to users is a coordinated task.

“Our program is only one part of the overall maintenance effort,” IDPR recreation bureau chief Dave Claycomb said. “Many of Idaho’s trails are managed by the United States Forest Service. Unfortunately, many of the national forests in Idaho lack the funding and manpower to adequately maintain all of those trails. To help offset a potential maintenance backlog, we provide the Forest Service support through our Trail Ranger and Trail Cat Programs.”

Every spring, IDPR invites land management agencies around the state to participate in the program. There is no cost to the agencies that utilize the Trail Ranger and Trail Cat programs.

Maintenance partnerships in Idaho are a necessity because, when trails go without maintenance, downed trees can block the trail, making it impassable for motorcyclists, equestrians, mountain bikers, and hikers. In addition, sections of trail wash out, water bars fill with sediment, and brush blocks trails.

Trail maintenance priorities are determined by how much use a particular area receives, when the trails are free of snow, and the availability of housing. By making more miles of trail available to recreationists, it disperses the use, environmental impacts are minimized and user conflict is reduced.

The IDPR Trail Ranger and Trail Cat Programs are funded entirely by off-highway motor vehicle registration fees.

For information on the IDPR Trail Ranger and Trail Cat Programs, visit IDPR at

For regular trail maintenance reports follow the Idaho ATV/Motorbike Program on Facebook.


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