The recent conveyance of 600 acres of public land to Challis and other parts of Custer County fits nicely into the city's plans to create more recreational trail systems, according to the mayor.
The paperwork was recently completed transferring ownership of eight parcels of Bureau of Land Management land within Custer County to Challis and the county. About 400 acres will go to Challis and another 202 acres to the county. Plans for the land include a solid waste disposal site, cemetery, fire hall, trails, parks and a campground, according to the BLM.
“We’re going to use that 400 acres as kind of a multiple-use type of area, that’s how we’re going to manage it,” said Challis mayor Mike Barrett. “We’ve already been working with the Idaho Parks and Recreation to help develop a trail system there. We’re thinking beginner trails for ATVs, some walking paths, things like that.”
Barrett said the new land will fit nicely into the city’s plan to increase recreational opportunities. The Challis Community Trails Committee plans to use the extra land south of town to connect into the Land of the Yankee Fork State Park trail system that continues to Bayhorse ghost town trail system about 15 miles away.
“It’s part of this larger plan to open up more recreational opportunities to our area,” Barrett said. “To help diversify our economy. This 400 acres is such a nice tie-in to what we’re trying to do with this trail system. It’s worked out really well.”
The city plans to install kiosks, parking areas and reroute some trails. Work is expected to begin this spring.
Greg Webster, owner of Bent Rod outdoor store and also a member of the trails committee, said as Challis reworks its trails the hope is to offer visitors a starting point right from their motel room door.
“It gives a connection in town for people staying at the motels,” he said. “There’s never been a connection of trails … It’s pretty exciting really.”
The land conveyance came about when the Jerry Peak Wilderness Area was created by Congress in 2015. Congressman Mike Simpson included legislation in the wilderness creation to convey land to various communities in Custer County.
“The BLM has worked hard with our local city and county officials to fulfill this responsibility,” said Todd Kuck, BLM's Challis Field Manager. “We are pleased to complete this process and provide land for important public purposes as the legislation required.”
The city of Clayton, south of Challis, received BLM land for its cemetery, a water storage plot and possible future sewage treatment facility, according to Custer County Commissioner Wayne Butts. The county also acquired about 200 acres next to Mackay Reservoir.
“We haven’t decided on what the heck we’re going to do with it,” Butts said.
Part of the 400 acres going to Challis was used for grazing and the city plans on continuing the grazing allotment, Barrett said.