$2,500 – Teton Valley Trails and Pathways
The Community Foundation of Teton Valley was honored to award this $2,500 grant to Teton Valley Trails and Pathways to fund the first stages of planning, layout, and design of future trail connections on land recently acquired by The Nature Conservancy in Teton Valley north and west of the Driggs Airport. The Foundation strongly supports Trails and Pathway’s efforts to develop new trails for public use by residents and visitors. This application also leveraged a partnership with The Nature Conservancy and the Teton Creek Collaborative partners (Teton Regional Land Trust, Friends of the Teton River, Valley Advocates for Responsible Development, Legacy Works, and Trails and Pathways).
The public health benefits of open space where people can gather safely and enjoy exercise together became even more clear during the past two years. With the uncertainty of the pandemic, people gravitated toward being outside and, in many cases, used trails. We know that being outside, having open space, and exercising is good for one’s physical and mental health. Having accessible outdoor recreation options for citizens helps everyone in the community who chooses to use it.
A challenge the Teton Valley community is wrestling with is the added use and pressure on recreation amenities in the area. Building out more options for people to use and enjoy the Teton Valley’s open space will help better disperse that use. Developing trail connections in this part of the valley will help relieve pressure on local Forest Service trails. The location of this system with Teton views will be a draw. Additionally, while pathway/public access helps with some community needs, the larger project goals of supporting agriculture, restoring/conserving stream and riparian habitat, and community development also serve many more community needs. Packaged together, the project holds tremendous future value for everyone in the community.
Trails and Pathways will use funds from this grant to pay for survey work, mapping, and engineer drawings of the future trails on Nature Conservancy-owned property. This is the first step in establishing the system and replicates the process used for the Teton Creek Corridor Pathway project. This first step is necessary before taking the second and third steps of recording easements and applying for Recreational Trail Funds through Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation. The goal for this phase is to walk/determine alignment in May, June, and July. In early fall, the plan is to have survey work done, then in November and December, have final drawings complete. The Recreational Trails Program grant application is due end of January, and Trails and Pathways will have these drawings/plans ready for that grant. Based on previous experience over 4 years of successful grants through this program, Trails and Pathways is confident in this process and that once plans and maps are developed, private funders will also see the vision and help fund the effort.
Given the health benefits and need for additional trail options, with the envisioned system and future connections, these trails will be widely available to residents of Teton County and its many visitors.
The Community Foundation commends the important work of Trails and Pathways and its partners to initiate trail alignment survey work, profile drawings, and maps of the eventual trails on Nature Conservancy land and share those benefits with many Teton County stakeholders.