Wednesday, April 21, 2010

With friends like these...

Yesterday's great conversation with Colleen Memeo at Stewart Title reminds me that I really need to highlight some of the help we're getting from folks in the community. It's been amazing.

Northeastern Nevada Stewardship Group - Where the project came from. The Recreation Pod of the Stewardship Group, led by then-rec pod chairman Duane Jones from Cedar Creek Clothing, asked the community what they wanted to see happen with recreational development. The community told us - lower-altitude trails in the Rubies, and *much* more access in the Rubies. This entire project sprang from that series of conversations and from the connections with the mines, agencies and local recreationists made in those meetings.

Barrick Gold North America - came to the rescue when this project was just a twinkle in my eye... we went to them with the idea, told them we needed to pay for a trail designer, and with pretty much nothing more than that they said - OK! Gave us a five-figure grant to do it. Talk about a leap of faith! That's Dave Ashby from the USFS in the picture, as well as Duane Jones from Cedar Creek Clothing, then-chairman of the NNSG Rec Pod, and Lou Schack from Barrick.

Backcountry Horsemen - We gave a presentation on the project in its early days to the national board of directors of Backcountry Horsemen. We needed to demonstrate to the Forest Service that we could not only build a trail, but that we could maintain it. No maintenance partners, no trail. Backcountry Horsemen responded to the request with an enthusiastic "HELL YEAH!" Not only that, but they gave us the idea for using draft animals to build the trail. This could end up being a huge labor-and-money-saver as the project progresses, especially in the wilderness.

Elko Velo Bicycle Club - Same story. We presented to their board of directors and they came with the support, too. They're hugely enthused about the project - finally, some real mountain bike trail around here!

Ken Jones, Lamoille rancher - The old trail alignment crossed private inholdings over and over and over again - one of the reasons the trail was allowed to fail in the first place. It just spent too much of its length in private property. Even with the re-route, though, there was one place where the trail simply HAS to cross a little piece of private property. Ken Jones, a long-time Lamoille rancher and the owner of that property, agreed to grant us an easement, allowing the project to move forward. Had he chosen to do so, he personally could have stopped this project in its tracks. Mr. Jones, however, believes in public access to public land and was great about helping us out. His importance to this project can not be overstated.

Bob Morley, High Desert Engineering - In order to get the easement ownership transferred, we needed an accurate map and legal description. Bob was great about knocking these things out for us.

Stewart Title - Colleen Memeo has put her resources at our disposal, taking care of the paperwork necessary to get this easement on the books.

JBR Environmental - Rich Weber - One of the biggest stumbling blocks for a project like this is the NEPA process - the cultural and biological surveys required, the public scoping, the reports... the USFS just doesn't have the staff resources to tackle a project like this. Rich stepped forward very early on and offered his staff's assistance in getting the surveys done. Help like this is going to be key with getting this project approved.

Lee Turner - NDOW - Same deal. Lee is a botanist and a huge trail fan, and jumped at the chance to help us conduct these surveys. Not only that, but he's going to help us write the NEPA documents going forward - significantly speeding the process of getting the project approved.

Sharon Reynolds, Tetra-tech - Sharon is a GIS professional, a long-time Ruby Mountain explorer and a big trail fan. She's helping us create maps for the project, which again will save us time and construction costs. And - since it reduces pressure on the overburdened USFS GIS staff, it will help speed things along.

Elko's local media - KENV, KELK and the Elko Daily Free Press have been amazingly helpful in getting the word out about the project.

Elko County Commissioners - Crucial to getting the project paid for - not because they're paying for it, but because their support is necessary for us to get grant funding for the project. No commissioners = no grants. No grants = no project.

USFS Ruby Mountain District - If these guys didn't believe in the project, there'd be no project. David Ashby got the ball rolling on the USFS side. Doug Clarke, Nancy Taylor and Gar Abbas, particularly, have been persistent about keeping it rolling. In addition, Dan Morris, formerly of the Ely District and now of Carson-Bridgeport, gave a lot of early guidance about outside-the-box methods of getting something of this scope off the ground.

Nevada Division of State Lands/Nevada's voters - OK, so they're not local - at least, not all of them. But when Nevada's voters approved the Question 1 bond, they made this project and others like it all over the state possible.

Great Basin Institute - This project was being managed out of their Ely office by Bill Wolf, although with budget cuts they've had to close that office and now work out of headquarters in Reno. But they've been great partners - helping us secure funding and keeping the bills paid, helping us with the nuts and bolts of getting the project built. They manage the Nevada Conservation Corps volunteers that will be doing the lion's share of trail construction.

Friends of the Secret-Lamoille Trail - I saved the best for last. We have more than 100 folks on the Friends list now - people who are offering up their skills to get this party going. They've written letters in support of the NEPA process, are helping us with pre-coordination, and when the time comes will get out there themselves and help with the building. Great bunch of folks.


There are a lot of other businesses, individuals and groups just waiting for their chance to jump in. Don't worry, it will come - and when it does you can be certain we'll highlight those contributions here and elsewhere. This is a big project and we're years from being done with this. But we're started - and these folks are the ones who got the ball rolling.

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