Monday, May 23, 2022

A field trip with the Pottsville Seven

Staff Reporter | May 12, 2022 2:35 PM

MULLAN — After days of heavy rain, the sun came out to shine upon group members looking to restore East Shoshone Park (previously Pottsville Park) to its original beauty. The group assembled Tuesday afternoon at the site where most members of the Pottsville Seven (Jim See, Bud Koski, Nick Hogamier, Ron Hayes, Sam Davis and Kjell Truesdell).

Several different agencies were represented including Shoshone County Commissioners John Hansen and Jay Huber, as well as Deputy Clerk Lori Teeters.

They were joined by Ranger Timothy Smith and Deputy Ranger Ashley Nettles with the United States Forest Service (USFS), District 3 Road Crew Chief Zach Ayer, and Shoshone County Grants Administrator Colleen Rosson all gathered on site for the informal tour.

The group spent time walking around the park while discussing the state of the facilities, available funds, things that need to be fixed, all while admiring the beauty of the location.

The park currently has two working bathrooms that need repairs to be fully functional, as well as others that need to be completely removed. The group discussed funds, including the Resource Advisory Committee (RAC), to help aid in their improvement efforts. RAC is a 15-member Idaho Panhandle Committee that participates in collaborative decision-making and recommends distributing Title II funding for projects to improve forest health, watersheds, roads and facilities on or adjacent to the Idaho Panhandle National Forests.

RAC will collect proposals this fall and meet to decide where the funding should go. The Great American Outdoors Act was also discussed, which gives the USDA Forest Service new opportunities to deliver benefits to the American public through significant investments in recreation infrastructure, public lands access, and land and water conservation.

While waiting for funds to come through, members of the Pottsville Seven had questions about what could be done now.

“Any sort of clean up can be done by volunteers,” Smith said. “For example, if we want to go through that picnic site over there and clean it up, repaint it, get new grills, we are able to do all of that right now based off of the NEPA that we already have in place. It’s considered administrative use.”

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires federal agencies to assess the environmental effects of their proposed actions before making decisions.

It’s important to note that those looking to volunteer should be aware there are limits.

Removing debris, cleaning up the area, painting and updating are allowed, but Nettles explained, “We want to be careful what a work party looks like. We have had some awesome citizens that wanted to go out and clean Hayden Creek, but they took earth moving machines out there, which greatly disturbed the ground.”

Volunteers are also not allowed to bring chainsaws out to the location. This is tied to the Wilderness Act, which states that ‘all cross-cut (non-motorized) saw use in the wilderness is directly tied to the Wilderness Act, which prohibits motorized use in nature and only allows administrative use.

During the visit, members of the group shared stories of their families coming up to visit the area and the special memories they hold.

Family picnics, outings with friends and family, and enjoying the park the day of the visit.

“This really is such a beautiful spot. I’m excited to see it back to its original beauty,” Nettles said. “Just cleaning up the park will improve it so much. It’s a gorgeous spot already.”

Currently, the Pottsville Seven is collecting volunteers to help with the cleanup of the park. The Shoshone News-Press will continue following this story.