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County agrees to fund BLM Pine Bar boat ramp construction

Rafters at a boat ram on the lower Salmon River.

Credit: Bureau of Land Management
Rafters at a boat ram on the lower Salmon River.

An old Bureau of Land Management plan to revitalize Salmon River boat ramps is poised for new life — and, finally, some funding — by way of action the Idaho County Commission took last month.

On Dec. 4, Idaho County Commission chairman Skip Brandt signed off on a request to the Idaho State Parks and Recreation Department for the county to retain what are known as vessel funds for use in a cooperative agreement with the feds to extend and add a lane to the boat ramp at Pine Bar.

The Pine Bar boat ramp work is one of seven Salmon River boat ramps the BLM Cottonwood Field Office included in a project scoped in 2015 and approved for design in January 2018. But absent funding, BLM did not put any of the ramp construction out to bid last year.

Meanwhile, Idaho County had been budgeting for years to help get the boat ramp work done. Each year, the county receives about $26,000 in vessel funds — chiefly, boat registration fees. The county fund had come to hold $126,000, all of which would be sent to the state agency if not used. So late last year, the county moved to provide $80,000 of that money to the BLM for the Pine Bar boat ramp work.

“This year we got a notification from Parks and Rec that if we’re not going to use the money, we have to send it back,” county commissioner Denis Duman told the Free Press Monday, Jan. 7. “We didn’t have the luxury of waiting on their [BLM] contracting procedure, advertising for bids, et cetera, et cetera. … Whatever doesn’t get used, and we want an itemization on it, we want back and then we’ll take a look at the next boat ramp.”

River users help steer decisions such as these through the county waterways committee, which recommends funding specific projects.

The Cottonwood Field Office released an environmental assessment along with the 2018 decision, which detailed the following:

  • Pine Bar: Construct a new concrete ramp parallel to the existing ramp, approximately 14 feet wide by 92 feet long.
  • Hammer Creek: Construct new preparation pads approximately 50 feet by 20 feet on the north and 50 feet by 30 feet on the south of the existing ramp, and replace a section (about 4 feet by 25 feet) of plank ramp.
  • White Bird Gravel Pit: Construct a new concrete ramp parallel to the existing ramp, approximately 18 feet wide by 146 feet long.
  • Slate Creek: Replace the boat ramp by removing concrete planks and installing a new concrete ramp approximately 14 feet wide by 120 feet long.
  • Lucile: Construct new preparation pads totaling approximately 402 square feet.
  • Old Lucile: Construct approximately 1,200 square feet of new preparation pads.
  • Shorts Bar: Construct a new ramp apron totaling about 45 square feet of new pad.

The Free Press attempted to contact the Cottonwood Field Office and the project manager for this article. This was to no avail, as the office remains closed while the federal government remains shut down.


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