Thursday, October 21, 2021

BOCC hears ideas for East Shoshone Park restoration

by CHELSEA NEWBY/Staff Reporter
| October 12, 2021 7:00 AM

WALLACE — East Shoshone Park was the topic of discussion at a recent Shoshone Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) meeting last Thursday centering around the future of the park, better known to local residents as Pottsville.

Among those also present at the meeting were multiple U.S. Forest Service representatives, including Ranger Dan Scaife with the Coeur d'Alene River Ranger District, as well as several members of the “Pottsville Seven” — a group of men from the Silver Valley who first developed the proposal to restore Pottsville to its original beauty.

BOCC Chairman Mike Fitzgerald explained at the start of the meeting that the Pottsville Seven had already met with commissioners previously, expressing concerns over the park's deterioration and lack of upkeep in recent years, to which each of the commissioners echoed as a well-known concern among local residents. Issues such as structural damage to covered picnic areas, water analysis and general park maintenance were some of the key areas of concern.

Currently, East Shoshone Park is under ownership of the USFS, which is something the Pottsville Seven would like to see changed. In a detailed report that was handed out to each member of the meeting, they proposed a transfer of ownership of the park from the USFS to Shoshone County.

The in-depth presentation explained how, “the unreliable care and maintenance schedule of Shoshone Park due to budgetary and personnel limitations of the U.S. Forest Service threatens the viability of the park. The Pottsville Seven believe that the future of the park would be better managed by a local entity. The best fit for the management of Shoshone Park would be Shoshone County.”

Fitzgerald recognized that transfer of ownership may not be the first or only possible avenue to ensure the park’s restoration. Other solutions such as a challenge cost share agreement, land exchange and volunteer agreement were all among ideas discussed.

“Our goal would be, if we’re going to start climbing this hill, let's do it so that it has a life that goes beyond just the terms of an agreement,” Fitzgerald said. “Whatever we do, we want to make sure it succeeds.”

The representatives from the USFS agreed to review the information and return in the near future with a list of feasible options with the goal of rectifying the park's current state. The Board of County Commissioners plans to hold a meeting next month with the Pottsville Seven and the U.S. Forest Service members to discuss further action.