Discussions continue on next step for ORV park

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Courtesy photo This a conceptual design for a potential ORV park in Shoshone County. The concept is designed around a minimum 500 acres of land, but can be expanded as big as possible depending on land availability.

WALLACE — A group of off-road enthusiasts from around the region met with the Shoshone Board of County Commissioners recently to continue their ongoing discussions concerning the building of an off-road vehicle park here in Shoshone County.

After meeting a few weeks prior, the group wanted to continue its dialogue with the BOCC after it had made a few positive steps of its own in the process.

ORV parks have grown in popularity over the years and regional enthusiasts Nick Snyder, Darrell Raver and Paul Loutzenhiser believe that an ORV park in Shoshone County could be a benefit to the local community.

Loutzenhiser, a Coeur d’Alene resident, has been working toward getting an ORV park in North Idaho for some time, but as land is being quickly purchased and developed in Kootenai County, he shifted his focus to Shoshone County.

Snyder, the director of Kootenai County’s Parks and Waterways, really began the discussion by addressing how the project fell flat in Kootenai County, but also mentioned how there is grant funding available for these types of projects.

The group also informed the BOCC that it had spoken with the Idaho Bureau of Land Management and that there is property available if the group can secure things such as funding and county support.

BOCC chairman Mike Fitzgerald was pleased to hear of the available lands and that the group was aware of the grant funding, but warned that the issue came down to sense and dollars, not just dollars and cents.

“We like the idea, we just need to figure out how we can get there from here,” Fitzgerald said. “The grants are available and the state does like to use them for projects such as these. However these grants are not for supporting and maintaining.”

According to Fitzgerald, entities prefer working with governments instead of private entities because there is less uncertainty with governments.

Fitzgerald’s concerns don’t come from the park itself, but from the standpoint of financial responsibility in maintaining it.

The biggest of these being law enforcement, emergency services, dust control and park maintenance.

With the county just beginning to get a handle on the extra traffic up the North Fork, Fitzgerald doesn’t want to add more stress to his already tapped resources.

“We’ve finally got our arms around trying to improve the situation up the North Fork,” Fitzgerald said. “We know how much it costs to add patrols. We’re spread really thin. It’s really hard for us to expand out onto anything else when we’re already having trouble fulfilling our own needs.”

Snyder did mention the possibility of this being a significant money maker, which did grab the interest of the BOCC, but still believes that a viable business plan will be needed before the county can truly commit to the project.

Fitzgerald’s thoughts were summed up perfectly during the initial meeting.

“The direction this would take would need to be an organized one. To properly utilize the state grant monies and build the appropriate facilities,” Fitzgerald said. “We don’t want to just pick a location for people to go and have a free-for-all. So we would go back to the use of the word ‘park’ because it is important that we remember that that is what this would be.”

For more information on Loutzenhiser and Raver’s plans and ideas or to get involved follow their Facebook page North Idaho ORV Park and Events.

For any comments for the BOCC, they can be reached at 208-753-3331.

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