It’s that time of year when the Caribou-Targhee National Forest districts are making requests for cash to fix up campgrounds, build toilets, replace boat ramps or rebuild trails.
Curt Neppl, a recreation staff officer with the U.S. Forest Service, said his office prioritizes needs and submits the grant requests to the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation. The Parks and Rec money comes from stickers purchased when people register snowmobiles, ATVs, boats and other off-road vehicles, and from outdoor-themed license plates bought at Idaho motor vehicle divisions. The program funds more than $7 million in projects each year.
“We’ve done a lot of good stuff,” Neppl said. “We repaved a couple of loops in Buffalo Campground and Riverside Campground (in Island Park). We installed new toilets in Buffalo Campground and news ones at Stoddard Creek out at Dubois. We’ve also put bridges in on trails. We’ve used it to fund work crews to do trail work for us. I think if people knew, maybe it would increase the number of people buying those plates.”
The Forest Service has several projects planned for the Ashton/Island Park and Dubois Ranger Districts, including new cattle guards, trailhead kiosks, toilet replacements and new campground picnic tables.
“We have hundreds of miles of recreation opportunities in eastern Idaho,” Neppl said. “(Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation) grants allow us to maintain and enhance recreation sites and trails across the forest, and we are looking for public input on our projects.”
He said the public is often the one who tips him off to specific needs through word of mouth, phone calls or online messages.
Some of the campgrounds identified for improvements include Flatrock, Steel Creek, Stoddard Creek and Warm River campgrounds. The grant proposals will be turned in by the end of the month and Neppl expects to hear the results in June.
“Often funding comes late for our fiscal budget,” he said. “So the work won’t be done until next season.”
Neppl encourages people to spend a little extra to buy the outdoor-themed license plates or make sure their boats or ATVs have their proper stickers to fund the Parks and Recreation program. He said his vehicle has a cutthroat trout on it.
“It’s a good way to take that money that people are paying for stickers and license plates and put it right back into the facility,” he said. “We definitely depend on these grant sources to make improvements.”
For specific information on proposed improvement projects by the Forest Service, contact Neppl at (208) 652-1201.