KAMIAH - An expanding partnership between the Idaho Department of Fish and Game and the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests is increasing hunter and angler access on National Forest System lands in north-central Idaho.
Staff from both agencies work together to prioritize trail work in popular hunting and fishing destinations, discussing their priorities for work projects and matching those up to areas that are in the highest demand for hunter and angler access. Funding from the Idaho Department of Fish and Game and other partner agencies makes these projects possible, and state and federal agency employees work together with partners and volunteers to accomplish the work on the ground to benefit hunters, anglers, and other recreationists across the forest.
“We continually hear from sportsmen that access is a huge concern for them,” said Don Jenkins, Regional Wildlife Habitat Manager with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. “Partnering with the Forest Service to address deferred maintenance on trails, using funding secured through fees associated with license sales, has helped open miles of access for sportsmen.”
This partnership began in 2017, when the Idaho Department of Fish and Game approached the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests interested in an opportunity to improve access for elk hunters in the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area. That year, the agencies worked together and with the Montana Conservation Corps to clear Klopton Creek Trail, greatly improving access for public lands users. This initial partnership was so successful that the agencies agreed to continue to explore new ways of working together in the future.
The following year, a project on Cayuse Creek Trail in the North Fork Clearwater River drainage was selected for Fish and Game access funding targeted to non–motorized trail restoration. The agencies then worked with the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation to secure additional Trail Program funding to support the project even further. The Forest Service partnered with crew members from the Great Burn Conservation Alliance and the Clearwater Basin Youth Conservation Corps to clear and re–align trail tread along a three mile stretch of old trail downstream from Cayuse Landing Strip, greatly improving the experience for anglers coming to this popular location. The agencies and partners plan to complete the remaining sections of this trail over the next few years.
The Sherman Creek, Holly Creek, and Skookum Creek trails in the Highway 12 corridor in the vicinity of the Lochsa Historical Ranger Station were selected for this year’s work, with an emphasis on single–track motorized access. These trails provide easy access to a segment of Hunt Unit 12 that lies between U.S. Highway 12 and Forest Service Road #500, commonly known as the Lolo Motorway. The Sherman Creek Trail joins Highway 12 to the Lolo Motorway and is a segment of the Idaho Centennial Trail. This trail has also been designated for use by the Appaloosa Horse Club during the Chief Joseph Trail Ride along the Nez Perce National Historic Trail route.
“We are so grateful to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game for providing access funding to make this trail restoration work possible, and for helping prioritize work areas based on their knowledge of hunter and angler use of National Forest System lands,” said Carol Hennessey, Program Manager for Recreation, Wilderness, Trails, Rivers, and Outfitters and Guides on the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests. “The Forest Service is looking forward to future years accomplishing this important work on the ground, and the possibilities for continuing to expand this collaboration.”